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The drip-drip principle

Saturday 6th January 2024.

Bom dia to you in this New Year. Business as usual? Or can we look forward to something new after all? Well, on 10 March we will be electing a new government (in Portugal) – and between 6 and 9 June a new European Parliament.There will also be elections in Russia, as well as in the USA. The Donald Trump horror show shows no signs of abating. Some hold on to the belief that everything will remain the same. Others have not yet given up hope that something new, something better is just around the corner.

Politics is suffering from heavy lobbying: from the fossil-fuel and car industry in particular, as well as from agro-business, which exerts massive influence on political decisions. And my impression is that people don’t realise what they could in actual fact do, how to organise resistance as a collective. They say, ah well, why should I join another strike now, when the last ten strikes didn’t result in any change? It’s simply impossible to see how it might be possible to change anything about the situation. What can we change through elections, through a change of government, or a protest? Many pivotal issues of justice have not been addressed properly – not by a single one of our governments. Where should we start? With educational politics? With healthcare? Or climate policies?

Could it be that we need another revolution in the 50th anniversary year after the 25th April 1974, in order to clear the decks? April’s Fool anyone?

With the climate crisis priority is given to technical aspects rather than to discussing the climate crisis as a social or political problem, while the power of multinational energy and food corporations are playing an extremely damaging role in society. Trust in serious and honest policies, free from bribery and corruption is dwindling. Trust in the ability of politics to solve any urgent issue at all is dwindling too. 2024 is supposed to be the decisive year to see whether we remain a country of democratic rule, or whether the fascists (in the shape of the Chega party) return to power after 100 years.

Now what do the economy, growth and capital have to do with climate change and democracy? A living democracy, alert and able to defend itself, is the only foundation for an honest government, fearless and committed to the common good, to set to work solving the crises. And with a little more imagination and foresight – the goal of reaching ZERO EMISSION far removed – one can find out why in Sweden one kWh of electricity only costs 0.045 euro, a litre of diesel fuel however 2.60 euros. In Portugal, the average price of electricity
stands at 0.22 euro per kWh, and diesel is sold cheap. The CO2 emissions of any fossil fuel spoil a country’s carbon footprint.

In Portugal, the sun shines for free. The price of Portugal’s electricity has to come down. Which is why private households have to be able to invest more intensively in solar power. Any available roof has to have access to co-financing of its solar-power set-up by the state. And we’re not talking about supporting EDP nor their derivatives, no, our citizens need active and sustainable support on their own roofs. Only then will they see that the funds from the EU and Lisbon do trickle down to the citizen, the tax payer. Done this way the electricity bill could result in ZERO, not to mention emissions. The same should be envisaged with a new constructive mobility concept for the entire country, for the entire continent. Why should buses and trains not be free to use? That sounds like something out of Utopia. That’s right. In Europe too we should reach for the stars once more. 2024 is the year where we make things happen. Let’s get away from fuel-guzzling cars, and move towards electric locomotion. And why not make it free?

This would go hand in hand with creating social policies governed by less self-righteousness and more respect for everyone, for teachers and pupils, for students, as well as for nurses and doctors – for every citizen – policies that don’t end in strikes, but in a constructive dialogue. I would wish for a government that looks after us, that takes me seriously as a citizen.

Uwe Heitkamp (64)

jornalista de televisão formado, autor de livros e botânico por hobby, pai de dois filhos adultos, conhece Portugal há 30 anos, fundador da ECO123.
Traduções: Dina Adão, John Elliot, Rudolfo Martins, Kathleen Becker
Photos:Uwe Heitkamp

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