Argentina—$13.6 billion in consumption subsidies in 2014 and additional (unknown) subsidies for new oil and gas exploration and development
Argentina provided US$ 13.6 billion in fossil fuel subsidies in 2014, based on a comparison of the end-user prices paid by consumers to the full cost of supply. It has provided consumption subsidies for gas and electricity, but started cutting down gas subsidies in 2014, and ended electricity subsidies in 2016, to relieve budgetary pressures. At the same time, it has recently been investing heavily in exploration and the development of new reserves of oil and gas, including through tax breaks for companies
Argentina holds an estimated 27 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil and 23 trillion cubic metres of shale gas (Stafford, 2014). The country is a net importer of coal, with very limited domestic production (90,000 tonnes in 2013) (U.S. EIA, 2013). Despite being one of the largest producers of natural gas and crude oil in Latin America, falling production and rising consumption led Argentina to become a net importer of energy in 2011 for the first time since 1984 (Borderes and Parravicini, 2014; Fin24, 2013). The cost of fossil-fuel imports to the country was $13 billion in 2013, equal to about 20% of the Central Bank’s foreign-exchange reserves (Fin24, 2013; The Economist, 2013b).
To address its dependency on imports and to develop its export markets, Argentina is investing heavily in exploration and the development of new reserves of oil and gas (YPF, 2012). This is linked to the discovery of the Vaca Muerta shale formation in Neuquén, Rio Negro, La Pampa and Mendoza provinces, which is estimated to be the world’s second largest shale-gas deposit and fourth largest shale oil deposit (Stafford, 2014). As a result of the discovery of Vaca Muerta and other shale formations in the country, Argentina is now ranked fourth in the world behind Russia, the United States and China in terms of shale-oil reserves and second only to China in shale-gas reserves (Fossett, 2013). By 2017, it is estimated that Argentina could be producing 100,000 barrels of unconventional oil per day, as well as 13 million cubic metres in natural gas (Fin24, 2013).
Fossil fuel exploration subsidies: Argentina – Overseas Development
Seventy-five percent of those surveyed considered global climate change to be a major threat to their country.
Available survey information on climate change attitudes and opinions in Argentina points to one conclusion—Argentinians care about climate change. Although rigorous studies on the subject are not abundant, by piecing together information from various sources we see a general narrative emerge. The following paragraphs will present some of the most relevant surveys from the past ten years.
2007—A study by the consulting firm Analogías surveyed 450 adults from the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Region and found that 75% of their sample believed that extreme weather events in their country were related to climate change. Furthermore, 90% said that climate change was an urgent issue that the government should address. Although the study was not conducted nationwide, it gives some indication of the concern Argentinians had for the subject over a decade ago.
2015—Just before the COP21 meeting in Paris, a survey by World Wide Views Alliance called “WWViews Climate and Energy” found that 95% of Argentinians surveyed were very worried about climate change. The population for this survey was also not nationally representative, but again the results showed a great concern.
2016—An online survey conducted across 23 countries by Ipsos Mori found that the vast majority of Argentinians sampled claimed that climate change is largely a result of human activity. This view expressed by 88% in Argentina was second on the list of countries surveyed (only Indonesia was higher).
2017—A recent Pew Research Center survey also showed the concern Argentinians have for the issue. The survey was conducted via telephone and face-to-face interviews with 1,012 Argentinians. Seventy-five percent of respondents considered global climate change to be a major threat to their country. This response outranked other threats including ISIS and the condition of the global economy.
Taken together, these results show a generally high level of concern about climate change in Argentina. However, all of these surveys are targeted at general public attitudes and opinions which, while important, are only part of the story. The attitudes and opinions of other important stakeholders such as the Government and corporations in Argentina are also crucial.
Argentina (1) Strengthen country’s Paris Agreement pledge (2) Improve implementation of existing emission reduction policies.
Argentina has revised its pledge to the Paris Agreement, and now proposes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions unconditionally to 483 MtCO2e by the year 2030. This is a revised and improved figure from 570 MtCO2e in the original NDC. The revised NDC pledge also suggests that the country may be able to reach a conditional target of 369 MtCO2e contingent on support from the international community. Although the establishment and revision of targets was a significant achievement for the country, Argentina can still strengthen its INDC further. One ambitious step would be to make the conditional target into an unconditional one. The fact that Argentina set this target means, that it believes it is feasible. Hence, Argentina should establish 369 MtCO2e as an unconditional target then devise a detailed and concrete strategy to ensure that the requisite conditions mentioned in the INDC are met: a.) International finance b.) Support in the transfer, innovation and development of technology c.) Support in building capacity to spread good practice and effectively implement proposed measures.
The most important way for Argentina to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to successfully implement the strategies and policies it has proposed. The country has made some laudable plans for reducing emissions across various sectors. However, it now needs to make good on those promises. For example, in the energy sector, Argentina intends to improve the share of renewable energy sources to 8% in 2018, 16% in 2021 and 20% by 2025. Of course, this will be easier said than done. Achieving these targets will mean not only ramping up production from renewable sources, but also limiting growth of non-renewable energy sources as well.
In the effort to reduce global emissions and minimize the scale of climate change, it is important for knowledge and best practices to be shared across countries. Perhaps equally important is the transfer across localities within a country. Over 90% of Argentina’s population live in urban areas, thus it is logical to look at cities as important actors in this pursuit. Some Argentinian cities, most notably Buenos Aires, have been recognized for their recent efforts. For example, the capital city created a Plan for Sustainable Mobility which seeks to boost affordable public and non-motorized transport. Other cities should be encouraged to follow suit and create their own policies. When effectively implemented at the city level, these will have a cumulative effect on emissions across the country while also improving sustainability and livability for local residents.
Argentina—No 100% 2050 Commitment
Benchmark: 20% by 2025
Although Argentina has made important strides in the domain of renewable energy, there is general consensus that their renewable energy sector needs to be augmented significantly. Argentina has not declared a commitment to reach 100% renewable energy by a certain date. However, earlier this year the Government of Argentina declared 2017 to be their “Year of Renewable Energy.” An official decree (9/2017) has called for the diversification of energy sources highlighting clean sources.
Historically the total share of renewables in Argentina’s energy matrix has been quite small (<2%). However, by law the Government has committed to achieve 8% renewables by 2018, 16% by 2021 and 20% by 2025. Because the energy sector of Argentina is largely fossil-fuel driven, a reduction of this magnitude will have significant implications for the country’s emissions.
The program that has generated the most buzz is Argentina’s RenovAr program initiated in 2016. This program, highlighted in the aforementioned official decree, seeks to promote alternative sources of energy and boost the country’s capacity. So far there are 71 projects underway across the country that amount to a total installed capacity of 3,023 Megawatts. The main sources are wind and solar and to a lesser extent biomass, small hydro and biogas.
As can be seen in the image on the following page, RenovAr projects are being installed across the country. In particular the Chubut Province has capitalized on wind farming and Jujuy Province is leading the way in terms of solar energy production.
For a report on renewable energy by the Ministry of Energy and Mining see http://scripts.minem.gob.ar/octopus/archivos.php?file=6943
Find updated information and resources related to renewable energy in Argentina on the official Twitter account of the Sub-secretary of Renewable Energy https://twitter.com/Renovables_Ar
For a link to the decree about the Year of Renewable Energy https://www.boletinoficial.gob.ar/#!DetalleNorma/157240/20170104
In a recent article titled “El país, más activo contra el cambio climático” (The Most Active Country Against Climate Change), Lucas Viano highlights some of the positive steps Argentina has taken since the Paris Agreement. The author cites influential climate experts like Juan Carlos Villalonga to show that the country appears intent to meet and even improve its climate commitment. In fact, Argentina was the first country to announce that it would increase its climate commitment from an unconditional 15% reduction in greenhouse gasses to 18%. Other significant gestures include the creation of a new National Cabinet for Climate Change and declaration of 2017 as the “Year of Renewable Energy.”
While Argentina is taking positive actions on one hand, some critics argue that the country is simultaneously making counterproductive moves. In a recent article, “Renewables Help Fight the Energy Crisis: Argentina’s New National Energy and Climate Policy,” the positive measures taken by the Marcri Administration are juxtaposed with negative environmental actions that are currently underway or planned for the near future. For example the government plans to ramp up gas and oil-fired thermoelectric power production which will solidify Argentina’s fossil fuel dependence. The Government is also rolling back export taxes on the agricultural sector which environmentalists fear will lead to an increase in already-high levels of deforestation. According to the author, Enrique Konstantinidis, the key weakness in Argentina’s approach to climate change is that there is no long-term strategy for decarbonization. He calls for a unified national plan that will cover multiple sectors and move the country toward sustainability.
Article in La Voz about Argentina’s climate activity: http://www.lavoz.com.ar/ciudadanos/el-pais-mas-activo-contra-el-cambio-climatico
Article by Enrique Mautua Konstantinidis—Director for Climate Change at Fondacion Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN): https://germanwatch.org/en/13268
Argentina’s energy production sector is heavily fossil fuel reliant and high emitting. However, the country is attempting to improve its energy matrix through Law 27191, in place since October 2015. The law mandates a rising quota of electricity from renewable sources including wind, solar, hydroelectric, and biomass plants. The quota starts at 8% and increases steadily until it reaches 20% by 2025. With the law firmly in place, Argentina seems to be off to a good start. However, the challenge now will be to fully implement it and adhere to the prescribed quota. Some evidence suggests that the country is committed to this effort.
In 2016, the government launched the Plan RenovAr program which focuses on developing new and an increased number of sources of clean energy. Through two rounds of tenders, the program awarded fifty-nine, large-scale renewable energy projects across the country. Once completed it is expected that these projects will produce an equivalent of 6% of the national demand for energy.
In January, through Decree 9/2017, President Macri officially declared 2017 the “Year of Renewable Energy.” This decree praised renewables for their potential contributions to 1.) Reducing greenhouse gas emissions 2.) Reducing reliance on energy from foreign countries 3.)Creation of local jobs. The decree states that the executive office will oversee numerous activities, seminars, conferences and educational programs to support development and use of renewable energy across the country.
If Argentina is going to meet its Paris Agreement commitments, improving its energy matrix to include more renewables will be a big step in the right direction. It also needs to monitor and report on the impact of its new renewable energy programs.
English Translation of Law 27191- https://www.minem.gob.ar/archivos/Reorganizacion/renovables/legislacion/ARGENTINA_-_Renewable_Energy_Law_Act_27191_(English_version).pdf
Decree 9/2017 (Spanish)-
Argentina is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters. Because of its large surface area and unique geography, the country is prone to desertification, flooding, drought, volcanic eruptions, heavy snowfalls, landslides, earthquakes, and tornados. The direct impact of climate change has been observed across the country in recent years. Slow and gradual changes such as increased precipitation and temperatures have been observed in many parts of the country. In addition, Argentina has also suffered numerous extreme climate events that have resulted in disasters.
Flooding is becoming a regular occurrence in many parts of the country. A combination of climatic factors including heavy rainfall and swollen rivers has produced devastating floods in recent years. In 2015, the country experienced floods which officials described as “the worst in five decades.” In the Northeastern city of Concordia, as many as 20,000 people were forced to evacuate. Just a year later, hundreds were forced from their homes in the provinces of Santa Fe and Buenos Aires.
In addition to disrupting the lives of Argentina’s citizens, the flooding has also devastated agricultural areas threatening the country’s economy and food supply. For example, long term flooding in the northwest region of Buenos Aires province, forced the local government to declare an agricultural emergency.
Argentina Creates New National Observatory on Climate Change
In hopes of detecting and preventing extreme climate events, the Ministry of the Environment and
Ministry of Defense have recently signed an agreement to create a National Observatory on Climate Change. The Observatory will create maps and conduct studies on numerous climate risks including floods, droughts, forest fires, heat waves, temperature changes and other extreme climate events.
For a description of the massive regional flooding in late 2015: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-35184793
To learn more about the numerous effects of flooding in Argentina: http://floodlist.com/tag/argentina
Televisión Pública Argentina is a large, publicly owned TV station. The channel (specifically its program Ambiente y Medio) produces content specific to ecology and the environment that covers concerns within Argentina and around the world. The channel does not have a specific stance on the Paris Agreement, but much of its content is geared towards raising awareness on environmental problems and providing information about how to improve them.
In a recent video Adrián Paenza interviewed Dr. Carolina Vera, one of the premier climate scientists in Argentina. The interview (in Spanish) can be accessed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzzwANKpXIQ
The program Ambiente y Medio is presented by Sergio Federovisky and Camila Hadad.
Contact: Av. Figueroa Alcorta 2977 (1425) Caba, Argentina; Tel: +54 (011) 4808-2500
Clarín is the largest Argentine newspaper. It is published by Grupo Clarín under the direction of Ernestina Herrera de Noble. Clarín is a centrist publication and reports relatively neutrally on climate related issues.
In December 2015 Clarín reported on the Paris Agreement in an article titled “Historic agreement in Paris to stop global warming.” The article can be found at: http://www.clarin.com/mundo/cumbre_del_clima-paris_0_rJlgNyKwmg.html
The aforementioned article was written by Marina Aizen (email@example.com), a journalist who has written numerous articles about issues of the environment, climate change and energy in Argentina.
Contact: Tacuarí 1840, C.A.B.A, ARGENTINA CP: C1140AAN
Website: managed by Damián Profeta (firstname.lastname@example.org) y Fermín Koop (email@example.com)
Claves21 is a collaborative network for environmental journalists. Claves21 is a not-for-profit project run by environmentalists Damián Profeta y Fermín Koop. Clave21’s objective is to promote and encourage media attention and coverage environmental issues in Argentina. Climate change is a frequent topic and there are numerous materials on the site including articles, videos and webinars related to the issue.
In July 2016, Nicolas de la Barra wrote an article called “Climate change is already being felt in Rio de la Plata.” The article highlights some of the effects that are already observable in the region including increased flooding. The article can be found at: http://claves21.com.ar/cambio-climatico-rio-de-la-plata/
Jujuy Province—Renewable energy sources will play a crucial role in Argentina’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years. Solar energy is one underdeveloped area that has huge potential. Jujuy province in the northern part of the country, on the border with Chile and Paraguay is set to expand its solar energy production significantly. Following a recent renewable energy auction by the government, the province will see three new 100MW solar energy projects. The geography of Argentina’s northern provinces is especially favorable for solar energy, and it seems that the country is serious about unlocking this untapped resource.
Telephone: 54 (0388) 4922-275
Chubut Province—Another renewable energy source that may see significant growth in coming years is wind energy. As of now wind provides only a miniscule percentage of Argentina’s energy. However, the government is looking to wind to help improve its energy matrix and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Like Jujuy, Chubut also benefitted from a recent energy auction. Specifically, three new onshore wind projects will be built by different companies across the province.
Dr. Héctor Fernando Mattio, Director Centro Regional de Energía Eólica (CREE)
Telephone: (54) 280 4481572
Buenos Aires—In addition to being the national capital and the site where most climate decisions are made, the city of Buenos Aires is also taking numerous steps to combat climate change. For example, the city has signed the C40 Cities Clean Bus Declaration as well as the Compact of City Mayors—a global coalition of mayors and city officials committed to reducing local greenhouse gas emissions, enhance resilience to climate change and track progress publicly. Furthermore, there are numerous projects and green initiatives underway in the city including improvements to transportation, waste management and energy.
For more about the different actions in Argentina visit: http://carbonn.org/data/report/commitments/?tx_datareport_pi1%5Buid%5D=58
Cámara Argentina de Energías Renovables
Telephone: 54 (11) 4515-0517
Telephone: (5411) 4551-8811
Red Argentina de Municipios Frente al Cambio Climático (Argentinian Network of Cities Against Climate Change) is an instrument to coordinate and drive local public policies in the fight against climate change. The network has over 100 members.
Rabbi Sergio Bergman
Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development
Sergio Bergman wears many hats. He is a rabbi, politician, pharmacist, scholar, writer and activist. In December 2015, he was appointed by President Mauricio Macri as Minister of the newly created Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development. Bergman is in charge of numerous climate change related functions and initiatives in Argentina. He recently attended the United Nations 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP 22) in Marrakesh and said that Argentina is working to achieve zero deforestation, the recovery of degraded lands and changes in its energy matrix. Bergman also appears to be proactively pushing for improvements in Argentina’s implementation of the Paris Agreement. He recently stated that the country would raise its unconditional emissions reduction commitment from 15 to 18%.
Climate Program Advocate
Dr. Vicente Barros
Emeritus Professor at the University of Buenos Aires and Senior Researcher at the Argentine Council of Sciences (CONICET)
Dr. Vicente Barros is a climate pioneer and prolific researcher who has worked for decades on climate change and environmental issues in South America. He has published 66 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals. In 1996 he directed the First National Communication of Argentina to the UNFCCC and made significant contributions to the Second one in 2006. He was been a member of the IPCC Bureau from 2008 to 2015 and was part of the Executive Committee from 2010 to 2015. More recently he helped coordinate a group of experts that presented an influential ‘Climate Models’ study in the Casa Rosada (the executive office of the country) in April 2015.
Climate Program Advocate
Dr. Carolina Vera
Professor at University of Buenos Aires and Director of the Center for Atmosphere and Ocean Sciences (CIMA) and UMI/IFAECI
Dr. Carolina Vera has been a researcher with the National Council of Research and Development (CONICET) for the past twenty years. Her work is largely dedicated to understanding and predicting climate variability and change in South America. She has published over 40 peer-reviewed journal articles along with multiple book chapters and IPCC reports. In addition she has served on numerous committees and held various functions related to the IPCC. Dr. Vera was a co-coordinator (along with Dr. Barros) of the 3rd National Communication of Argentina to the UNFCCC and was part of the team that delivered the ‘Climate Models’ study to the Casa Rosada in 2015.
For information about Sergio Bergman’s participation in COP 22: http://en.mercopress.com/2016/11/18/argentina-pledges-to-reduce-carbon-dioxide-emissions-by-20-million-by-2030
For information (in Spanish) about the report delivered by Barros and Vera in the Casa Rosada: http://3cn.cima.fcen.uba.ar/3cn_EnLosMedios.php