Incoming administration’s representative says current goal of 15 percent will be increased
PARIS — President-elect Mauricio Macri’s representative at the COP21 climate change summit in the outskirts of the French capital wants to make sure the world knows Argentina plans to start taking the issue of global warming a lot more seriously and will increase the country’s commitment to the cause.
Let’s Change lawmaker Juan Carlos Villalonga met yesterday with delegations from two countries and two trade blocs at the summit and told them Macri plans to “immediately” increase Argentina’s current pledge to cut emissions by 15 percent and make it more ambitious
Villalonga, a former head of Greenpeace Argentina, has been working since Tuesday with the delegation sent by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s outgoing to represent Argentina at COP21. But starting today, when Macri takes office, he will have a more active role and play the role of spokesman. CFK’s representatives are staying put as the summit ends in a mere two days.
“We’ll immediately review Argentina’s climate-change pledge, that’s for sure. We need a more ambitious proposal. There’s no reason not to do it,” Villalonga said in a meeting with reporters yesterday. “We could reach the 15 percent pledge without doing anything. The government listed things that had already been done as future goals.”
Argentina vowed in September to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, saying the figure could be increased to 30 percent if the government receives additional funding from international agencies. Environmentalists quickly criticized the pledge as far from ambitious, particularly when compared to other Latin American countries.
The Climate Action Tracker (CAT), an independent, science-based assessment that tracks government action on climate, said Argentina’s targets can be achieved with the current policies and described the country’s plan as inconsistent with the global objective of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius.
“Over the last few years, Argentina worked side by side on climate talks with developing countries, seeking to avoid its responsibilities. The fact that it’s a G20 member country forces it to have a different stance,” Villalonga said. “I long for Argentina to have a different vision. Other countries in the region are much more active in the issue even though they are also developing countries.‘
Asked in what sectors Argentina could offer a greater climate commitment, Villalonga said the largest effort would be set on emissions related to deforestation and energy. Nevertheless, he dismissed setting the efforts on agriculture, which account for more than 50 percent of the country’s emissions, according to the latest report by the Environment Secretariat.
“The agricultural sector represents an opportunity for Argentina over the upcoming years, we’ll move to expand production as it’s going to be the key to solving the current economic woes. Argentina has a role in the world and that is being a food supplier,” Villalonga said. “Farmers are worried about the trade barriers being imposed on the country due to the emissions from the sector but I don’t see that happening.”
Argentina is likely to be hit hard by global warming, with the country likely to see average temperature increases that are higher than the global average, according to experts. Global warming for Argentina is likely to reduce crop yields and reduce water availability and by 2030, the energy, agriculture and cattle-ranching sectors will account for more than 87 percent of the country’s total emissions.
After meeting with the official Argentina delegation on Tuesday, Villalonga reached out to delegations from numerous other countries yesterday to start showing a different stance on climate change.
He was welcomed by representatives from France, the United States, the Ibero-American Climate Change Cooperation Network and the Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC). He said everyone received him with open arms, noting a Macri administration will seek to have an open dialogue with a wide spectrum of countries on climate change.
“The fact that I could reach out to some delegations already represents a message,” Villalonga said. “Argentina will now be much more open to climate talks.”