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Friday Briefing: What do the climate activists want?

Good morning and welcome to PORTUGAL DECODED, your weekly digest of Western Iberian news. Today, we’re bringing you a very Portuguese hors d’oeuvre, a main course of climate protests and for dessert: shepherd’s pie!

LAST CHRISTMAS | Lisbon’s flagship A Vida Portuguesa store in Chiado, which for 18 years has preserved and sold traditional Portuguese ware, will close next summer to make way for luxury short-rental flats.

“Just as tourism helped us get through the 2008 crisis, today it is its own agents who are condemning the city's independent commerce to disappearance. We are no exception,” reads the statement released this Wednesday.

HOLY BARD | On Thursday, José Tolentino Mendonça, the Portuguese Cardinal regarded by many as the frontrunner to be the next Pope, has won the Prémio Pessoa 2023, one of the most prestigious awards in Portugal. He will donate the full 60.000€ prize to a charity.

Tolentino Mendonça was honoured for his diverse intellectual activity “that seeks to welcome, understand and transcend the tears, conflicts and sufferings of humanity”. He has published numerous poetry books, essays and opinion articles, including five books translated into English (available here, here, here, here, and here).

UNHOLY LIAISONS | Police have captured a man said to be both an international drug lord and an associate of the PSD-led Estrela council, one of the most affluent areas in central Lisbon.

The police suspects the man, Heitor Brandão, of supplying drugs, prostitutes and falsified documents to several politicians. Expect to hear more on this as details come through.

TIME OFF | Companies taking part in Portugal’s four-day work week trial evaluated it positively and workers reported lower exhaustion levels and a better work-life balance.

The four-day week also had an impact on workers’ mental health, with the anxiety index decreasing by 21%, fatigue by 23%, insomnia or sleep problems by 19%, depressive states by 21%, tension by 21% and loneliness by 14%.

FAR GONE | Rating agency Moody’s downgraded Farfetch, the first unicorn with Portuguese DNA, to junk status and its market value collapsed, amid rumours that it will pull out from the New York Stock Exchange.

Farfetch’s financial woes place a critical question mark on its plans to build a state-of-the-art headquarters in Matosinhos, called Fuse Valley, designed by award-winning Danish architecture office BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group.


© Climáximo

This Thursday, climate activists from Climáximo blocked the Marquês de Pombal tunnel in Lisbon and hung themselves from a viaduct with a banner reading “governments and companies have declared war on society and the planet”. Learn more about them:

Is this the first time they are protesting?

No. Only this year, they have: glued themselves to the gates of a building where the Council of Minister was set to take place; thrown green paint at the Climate and the Finance Ministers; and glued themselves to a plane at Lisbon airport; among other protests.

So, are they the Portuguese answer to Fridays for Future?

Not exactly. Climáximo was born in 2015, while Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future started in August 2018. However, Climáximo say that they are part of the international movement for climate justice and regularly join Fridays for Future’s global demonstrations.

Who are they then?

They describe themselves as an open, horizontal and anti-capitalist collective. They don't have a governing body and public statements rotate among its 50 most active members. Their most public faces are João Camargo, climate researcher and author, and Mariana Rodrigues, an administrative clerk. Most of its members are young people, with a background in climate studies, and links to left-wing Bloco de Esquerda, but these characteristics are not exclusive.

But wait: isn’t Portugal a world’s leader in climate policy?

Also, not exactly. The recent Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2024 ranked Portugal 13 out of 90 countries, above the European average and countries such as Germany, France, Spain, Finland. However, the CCPI national experts point out that Portugal would have to achieve climate neutrality a decade earlier than the current 2050 target to align with the 1.5°C of the Paris Agreement. Moreover, they recommended more support for low-income households, a faster phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies, and improvements in the transport sector, as cars remain the dominant means of transportation.

So, what are their goals?

On their website, they present a three-point plan “to stop the climate crisis and build peace”:

  • Immediately cancel any project that increases emissions on a large scale in Portugal, including the expansion of the LNG terminal in Sines and the new airport.

  • Shut down all emitting infrastructures and set in motion a just transition, compatible with science deadlines.

  • Rebuild society to guarantee free health, education, housing, food, renewable energy and transport in the public sector for all people.

Where can I learn more about them?

In addition to their website, you can find more information in Climáximo’s accounts on Instagram, Twitter, Tiktok, Telegram, and Facebook.


In collaboration with Unique Portugal

© Lusa/Pedro Sarmento Costa

What’s Christmas without shepherds? This year take the family out for a walk on the wild side with a “One Day with the Shepherd” tour in Vila Nova de Poiares. Follow a herd of goats and enjoy a unique experience amid the nature, with lush and breath-taking landscapes, sprinkled with trails and walking routes to suit everyone. The tour takes place every day, weather permitting, and registration is required through the São Miguel de Poiares Parish Council (239421513/ [email protected]).


  • Supermarket workers will go on a strike on December 23-24. So make sure to do all your Christmas shopping beforehand. 🦃 

  • The Government has granted a day-off to all public workers on December 26 and January 2. So public services will also be shut on these days. ⛄

  • Today and tomorrow, Socialists will vote on António Costa’s successor as their leader and possible next Prime Minister of Portugal. Stay tuned. 🗳️

  • Portugal was the world's fourth most Googled travel destination in 2023, according to Condé Nast Traveller. 🏖️

  • Portuguese football teams had a good week on European competitions: FC Porto sealed a spot in the Champions League’s round of 16, while Benfica, Sporting and SC Braga all qualified for Europa League. ⚽


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