Boudou to push for ‘balanced’ climate deal

,

Buenos Aires Herald, Argentina

LIMA — Vice-President Amado Boudou arrives in Lima today for a crucial climate change conference with a clear strategy — he will point the finger at developed countries for not doing their share to fight rising temperatures and assure that Argentina is committed to adapting to the demands put on it.

Boudou’s arrival will coincide with the start of a high-profile part of the conference, with many Latin American presidents and environmental ministers set to speak out about the effects and impact at climate change, including Ollanta Humala (Peru), Michelle Bachelet (Chile), Evo Morales (Bolivia) and Juan Manuel Santos (Colombia).

“We are focused on adaptation, rather than on mitigation. It’s not fair that developed countries didn’t do what they were supposed to and now we have to start mitigating. We want a balanced negotiation,” Argentina’s Climate Change Director Laura Juárez told the Herald yesterday. “Argentina is open to all discussions, but only working on those terms.”

Travelling with Environment Under-Secretary Silvia Rébora, Boudou is set to land this afternoon at Jorge Chávez Airport located in the outskirts of Lima. He will attend a dinner hosted by Humala at the Peruvian capital’s National Theatre and will then deliver a speech tomorrow morning at the conference, which is being held at the Army barracks in the area of San Borja.

Boudou’s speech, which was still being tweaked at press time last night by Argentina’s Foreign Ministry, will highlight the responsibilities developed countries have over how to fight climate change and the need for them to provide funds for developing nations. All efforts by the country will be geared toward adapting to the effects of climate change.

Argentina’s Vaca Muerta shale area, an issue that’s surprisingly gone unmentioned at the summit so far, again won’t be open for discussion by the vice-president, despite its impact on the environment. The Argentine government is expected to offer a new commitment to renewable energy sources as the country has a large potential to exploit them. New initiatives and programmes are also set to be launched by the Environmental Ministry.

“We want to start changing the situation of renewable energy sources. Not a lot of effort has been made on the issue so far. New programmes have already started and we hope to unveil others soon,” Juárez said. “A large international event will be held in Buenos Aires in April to give the issue a boost.”

Boudou’s participation at the UN conference will rescue him from the political ostracism he has faced after he was indicted over irregularities over the Ciccone mint company case in June and, a month later, for falsifying registration documents relating to a Honda car he owned. Despite multiple calls for impeachment from opposition lawmakers, the vice-president has kept a low profile of late, seeking not to damage the Kirchnerite administration with his legal problems.

Boudou is currently waiting for the Criminal Appeals Court to confirm if Federal Judge Ariel Lijo’s indictment over the Ciccone case will stand or not. If Lijo’s ruling is confirmed, that would create another headache for President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s number two. Court sources say that the Appeals Court’s decision could came at any time, perhaps even while Boudou is in Peru.

Expecting a deal

Representatives from almost 200 governments are gathered in Lima for the two-week UN climate change summit. Countries will try to lay the foundation for a deal that would aim to limit any rise in global warming to two degrees Celsius. But to reach this goal, countries would have to cut emissions between 40 to 70 percent before 2050, deeming it unlikely.

During his three days in Lima, Boudou will head the 35-strong Argentine delegation to the Conference of Parties (COP), which includes representatives from the Foreign Ministry, the Environment Secretariat, the Agriculture Ministry, the Energy Secretariat and National Health and Food Quality Service (Senasa). Environment Secretary Omar Judis was originally set to travel too, but in the end Rébora has taken his place.

This won’t be the first time Boudou will speak about climate change. In 2012, at a meeting at the Senate, prior to the Río de Janeiro sustainable development conference, Boudou described climate change as a “political issue” and pointed the finger at developed countries as being the most responsible.

“The discussion over the environment is actually a fight against imperialism and Argentina won’t accept imperialism,” Boudou declared back then. “There’s no doubt that the current level of emissions are anunwanted consequence of the industrial revolution, which didn’t start in any of the Latin American countries. Developed countries have to say what their plans are regarding climate change.”

Effects on Latin America

Latin America is a region that’s highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and it will have to implement changes soon with some NGOs, experts and analysts declaring on the sidelines of the conference yesterday that regional GDP could drop by between 1.5 percent to five percent by 2050 if nothing is done.

“(Latin America) is one of the most vulnerable regions of the world to climate change because of its geographical conditions and the lack of resources. Latin America needs to start working on adaptation and mitigation as soon as possible,” said Luis Miguel Galindo, who heads up a team on climate change at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). “A balance between economic growth and its effects on climate change has to be found.”

Galindo pointed out that the region’s economic growth has led to more people owning and using cars, leading to higher emissions. If the effects of climate change are not to worsen, Galindo said, people need to start using efficient public transportation instead of their cars. At the same time, he argued that the region’s current infrastructure projects should be carried out more efficiently, in order for them not to have an environmental impact in the future.

Argentina’s Glacier Law has been highlighted by NGOs as an example of the only piece of legislation of its kind in the region. Latin America’s glaciers are expected to be hit severely by the effects of climate change, thereby affecting the availability of water in many towns. Criticism however has been levelled against mining projects such as Pascua Lama because of its negative effect on glaciers.

“Latin American politicians are not aware of the effects of climate change on glaciers. They should take a more active stand and start implementing precautionary measures,” Fabia Liberona, a biologist and head of the Chilean foundation Terram, said yesterday. “Mining projects in Argentina, Chile and Peru are destroying the glaciers. The water supply for several towns could be put at risk.”