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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Gov’t pledges to 15% cut in emissions by 2030

Sustainable Development Under-Secretary Juan Pablo Vismara (second from right) speaks during an event at the Sheraton Hotel yesterday.
By Fermín Koop
Herald Staff

Argentina will pledge this week to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 15% before 2030

Argentina has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, a figure that could be increased to 30 percent if the government receives extra funding from international agencies.

But while government officials describe the objective as “ambitious,” climate change experts and NGOs say the figure falls short of those set by other developing countries and question exactly how Argentina truly plans to reduce its emissions.

Countries that have signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), including Argentina, have to file a plan for tackling emissions, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC). All national commitments will form part of a new global agreement on climate change, set to be signed in Paris in December.

“Argentina has the need to keep growing because of its citizens and we won’t prejudice that in order to be on good terms with international agencies,” Environment Secretary Sergio Lorusso told the Herald. “This is a global problem that affects everybody. Nevertheless, not all countries have the same responsibility. Our commitment is important and we made a great effort to reach that figure.”

Argentina will make its commitment official by submitting the INDC on Thursday to the UNFCC but carried out a summit yesterday to reveal some details. The plan includes many actions already on the way such as improving the railroad network and building more dams and nuclear plants and also lists measures to implement such as increasing energy efficiency on a domestic and industrial scale.

“Responsibilities aren’t the same for everybody. Argentina made a commitment based on its current situation, including efforts already being made towards mitigation and adaptation,” Fabiana Loguzzo, Environmental Affairs Director at the Foreign Ministry, said at the summit. “It’s a starting-point, we’ll see if we can improve or change something in the future. Countries have the right to choose what path to take.”

A higher biodiesel blending is also expected by the government, growing from the current 10 percent to 15 percent in 2030 with a 15 percent emissions reduction scenario, a figure that grows to 27 percent with the 30 percent scenario.

Meanwhile, renewable energy, currently accounting for less than one percentage point on the country’s energy matrix, would increase to between eight and 12 percent by 2030 with the 15 percent reduction goal and to 20 percent with the 30 percent objective. Such figures are lower than the 25 percent objective by 2025 set days ago by a recently passed law.

“Argentina has the capacity to cut emissions by 30 percent by 2030, but that depends on international funding. Developed countries have vowed those funds will be available but we aren’t sure about that,” Juan Pablo Vismara, Sustainable Development under-secretary, told the Herald. “It’s an ambitious goal and we’ll reach it by carrying out a set of measures.”

Other commitments

Argentina’s pledge on climate change comes after commitments by other Latin American countries, in most cases higher. Brazil vowed on Sunday to lower emissions 37 percent by 2025, Mexico said it plans to cut emissions by 25 percent in 2030, which could grow to 40 percent with international funding and Peru promised to reduce emissions by 31 percent by 2030, among others.

Argentina as a whole is only responsible for 0.88 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases, with the government pointing the finger at developed countries as the main historic pollutants who must do the most to mitigate the effects of global warming. Nevertheless, if analyzed per capita, Argentines have the same carbon footprint as Europeans, according to World Bank figures.

“Argentina is a G20 member, hopes to be part of the BRICS and out of the 195 countries that signed the UN convention ranks 21st on the number of emissions. A 15 percent reduction is a low figure,” Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis, climate change adviser at the Environment and Natural Resources Foundation (FARN), told the Herald. “Most of the measures proposed to implement on the future could in fact be carried out now.”

The agricultural sector as a whole accounts for 50 percent of the country’s emissions, although a large part of that takes deforestation into account. Meanwhile, the energy category — including transportation and manufacturing industries — explains 43 percent of the emissions. Measures to lower emissions on agriculture, waste management and oil and gas weren’t included in the government’s pledge.

“The pledge is based on projects currently being carried out. A 15-percent reduction is an objective that the country can achieve. It’s playing it safe but I prefer that to proposing something the country won’t be able to achieve,” Carolina Vera, Conicet researcher and climate change expert, told the Herald. “We have no culture of natural resources preservation but now Argentine will be held accountable for its actions.”

@ferminkoop

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