Argentina announced its INDC on the road to COP21

At a special event held yesterday, September 28,  in the city of Buenos Aires, the Secretariat of Environment and Sustainable Development of the Nation announcedthe proposal that Argentina will formally present this week at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The concrete proposal: an unconditional target of reduction of emissions of 15% compared to BAU (Business As Usual) 2030 and a conditional target of increasing that with an additional 15% reduction, ie reach 30% with international help.

After the adoption of the recent post-2015 schedule with the new Sustainable Development Goals (which established in its target 13 «take urgent measures to fight against climate change and its effects»), and next to be held the final game of preliminary negotiations before the Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Bonn (Germany) next October; September concludes with the international glance at those countries which had not yet publicly released its Climate Action Plans. It is a document in which each of the parties establishes its national contributions to reduce emissions, overlooking the deal expected to sign in Paris in December to address climate change.

This international focus is mainly on Latin America, which, next to meeting the deadline for delivery of their plans, they begin to make their contributions. After Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru and Brazil formally published their contributions, yesterday Argentina, through the Secretariat of Environment and Sustainable Development’s Office and the Foreign Ministry announced what their goals are in the global fight against climate change .

«This is an important day for Argentina in its position in the international arena that will allow the country to another profile as one of the countries involved with a view to the negotiations at the COP» said Fabiana Loguzzo, General Director of Environmental Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs with responsibility for negotiations at international summits.

Juan Pablo Vismara, Undersecretary of Promotion and Sustainable Development of the Secretariat summarized the announcement of the national proposal: «Argentina evaluated the real potential of mitigation from here to 2030 and determined that, based on a projection of future emissions scenario, we could reduce them on 30%, in order to stabilize them. To do this, we noted that certain conditions have to be given, and that we are not safe today that they will occur, for example, international funding. We can not promise to that if we are not sure that this funding will be. Therefore, Argentina made a conditional commitment».

The proposal, in detail

What then is the proposal that Argentina take to the COP21? It integrates two sides to consider. On one hand, a first unconditional target of reducing emissions by 15% compared to BAU 2030. On the other hand, a conditional target of increasing this reduction by an additional 15% from international aid. That is, the first objective is one that Argentina is firmly committed to undertake. The second objective depends on variables beyond their control, which will seek to aspire as opportunities, for example, external financing and international aid for innovation.

The proposal reinforces the position that Argentina had in previous negotiations on two axes. First, the obligation to respect and enforce the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities under the historical conditions of each party emissions. Second, from the positions of developed countries put the focus of the negotiations on mitigation, also give consideration to the importance of adaptation.

«There are actions ranging from agricultural to forest areas, and others that have to do with reducing emissions on energy. All of them will allow us to reach the target of 30% with the help of international organizations», said Sergio Lorusso, Secretary of Environment and Sustainable Development of the Nation, and added: «Even without this international assistance, we will work».

In this regard, in order to achieve the objective, mitigation would include measures, such as the adoption of the recent Renewable Energy Act enacted, and the promotion of alternative fuels or biofuels. For its part, the adaptation would be mainly in the development of social, economic and housing in order to increase resilience and reduce vulnerability conditions. An example is the case of the agricultural sector, which would promote better utilization of water resources and management decisions crops.

In the future, the implementation of the proposed work would involve the development of the provinces. Hugo Bilbao, president of the Federal Environment Council (COFEMA), explained: «The ownership of natural resources is of the provinces. That is, it is also a commitment of the provinces with which we work on the development of new energy, improve transport characteristics, promote the efficiency of energy use and generation patterns of agricultural production and livestock that they can be cleaner».

The big question: is not ambitious or is achievable?

Prior to the announcement from the Secretariat, the debate between different local actors focused on whether a reduction of 15% was an ambitious goal for Argentina (debate which is repeated in other countries after their presentations). The question that arises before yesterday’s announcement is if the objectives lack ambition in theory or are feasible to achieve in practice.

Vismara responds to the question: «It is a work of joint public and private sector. The target also implies what the private sector -industrial, transport, among others- is willing to give. The goal, no doubt, work with other actors, it is ambitious. The important thing here is to reduce emissions. »

«I read in some media that the numbers spoke of Argentina were unambitious. The question is ‘not ambitious for whom?’. Argentina has the need to work for his people, nor will sacrifice his people get along with international organizations», said Lorusso, adding: » We will do whatever humanly possible to get along with everyone and with Argentina. So I stressed recently, for Argentina and the world, and in that order».

Meanwhile, Carolina Vera, a researcher at the Research Center Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (CIMA), refused to consider this as a not very ambitious proposal from this approach: «In Argentina we have no culture of preservation of natural resources or awareness of energy use; so our change is more social than technological, social and political drag». In this sense, Vera highlights three positive aspects of the proposal: «It is a compromise, ie Argentina will be held accountable; it is possible, because it is made with projects that are raised to reach 15%, and if funds are available, 30%; it is within a context of sustainable development».

From this discussion about ambition or not of the proposal, Juan Carlos Villalonga, head of the Environmental Protection Agency of the government of Buenos Aires, expressed critical about mitigation strategies: «It is held in the area heavily dependent on nuclear power plants and large dams». In this regard, Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis, coordinator of the Climate Agenda project of Environment and Natural Resources Foundation (FARN) said: «What worry me is that Argentina is a country of G20, is 21° issuer worldwide of 195 countries, that 15% is composed, for the most part, by large hydroelectric and five nuclear power plants. Where did the space and the potential of Argentina on renewable energies?»

The Argentine scientist, member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Vicente Barros, highlighted the positive aspects of the proposal, but also recognized some specific details: «There are a number of measures that were not considered yet, but prudently could give greater reductions after 2030. For example, furthering the capture for planted forests or the use of hydrogen in vehicles».

After the official announcement, it is expected that Argentina make its formal presentation of the document to the UNFCCC in the course of this week; allowing to analyze in more detail the proposal and its complementary strategies. «We don’t see this document as a final end but, on the contrary, as a starting point for further work addressing climate change», said Loguzzo. In this respect, Bilbao added: «Keep in mind that this is an element of negotiation. That is, this is the number that will be negotiated in a very large international agreement».

With some opinions for and other against, Argentina now has a position to defend on the COP21. We are the first generation that is suffering the effects of climate change, but also we are the last generation that can do something to reverse this situation. And that responsibility is for all countries, developed and developing, North and South, all have their share of action to meet. Including Latin America. Including Argentina. Negotiations are newly designed. The last word of the parties will take place in Paris.

Tais Gadea Lara • 29 septiembre, 2015

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