Authors: Paula Mussetta1, Lucrecia Wagner2, Julia Barrientos1, Facundo Rojas2, Cesar Ferrer1.

National Council of Scientific and Technical Research. Scientific Technology Center – Mendoza. Argentina.
1 Institute of Human, Social and Environmental Sciences.
2 Argentine Institute of Snow Research, Glaciology and Environmental Sciences.


Mariana Mussetta. Universidad Nacional de Villa María. Villa María, Argentina.
Paola Porello. Escuela Normal Víctor Mercante. Villa María, Argentina.

1. Identify the most recent national commitment on reducing ghg emissions (INDCs) made by the country and the date on which it was made.

The most recent national communication in Argentina is the Third National Communication on Climate Change (3NC-2015). Previously, the First National Communication had been issued in 1997 and the Second National Communication was elaborated in 2007. The communications are part of the obligations assumed by Argentina when ratifying, in 1994, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Among the assumed obligations, Argentina must make and inform its national ghg inventories and elaborate mitigation and adaptation measures. National communications are coordinated by the Department of Environment and Sustainable Development (SAyDS) through the Department of Climate Change.
The closing reports of the 3NC are organized in the following components: Inventory and Mitigation, Adaptation and Vulnerability and Climate Models – Climate Database.
The objectives of the Inventory and Mitigation component were the improvement and development of the national ghg inventory and the strengthening of the technical capacity of the country for the modelling, analysis and projection of the emissions. Investigations were also carried out on ways to improve the qualifying frame to implement mitigation measures destined to integrate climate change in the development strategy and in sectoral programs. As for the inventories, they were made for years 2010 and 2012, completing the historical series from 1990 to 2012 and advancing in a projection of emissions from year 2013 to 2030.

The Strengthening of the National Agenda of the Adaptation component of 3NC contains studies on i) impact and vulnerability to climate change in agriculture and livestock; ii) impact of and vulnerability to climate change in the Andean region and in the oasis at the Andean foothills; iii) sources of generation and demand of energy; iv) the workplace: opportunities and challenges for adaptation; v) ecoregions and environmental services for the Argentine Sea and Patagonia region; vi) vulnerability and adaptation of barren and semi-arid region; vii) tourism: impact and vulnerability; and viii) social vulnerability: threat and risk facing climate change.

Lastly, the Climate Models component had the aim of introducing an evaluation of the recent climate tendencies (since the second half of the twentieth century) and a projection of future climate (twenty-first century) in Argentina. In addition, the 3NC Climate Database was created. This includes data (observed and simulated by climate models) on different climate variables in Argentina for the present and future climate. The information is provided for free for its use in studies related to climate change.1


1. To access this information, please refer to www://

2. Given that any national ghg emissions reduction target is implicitly a position on an atmospheric ghg concentration that will avoid dangerous climate change, to what extent has the nation expressly identified an atmospheric ghg level target goal or a warming limit that its INDC is designed to achieve and is it possible to quantitatively examine how the ghg emission target links quantitatively to an atmospheric ghg concentration or carbon budget?

Argentina does not have a quantified commitment of emissions reduction because it appears on the list of ‘non-Annex B’ countries, that is to say, developing countries which accept the objectives and goals of the Kyoto Protocol but which, considering the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, do not assume quantitative obligations of limitation and reduction of emissions. However, in the Fourth Conference (COP4) held in Buenos Aires in 1998, Argentina announced its intention to elaborate a voluntary goal of emissions reduction to be met during the first period of commitment established by the Kyoto Protocol (2008 – 2012). This voluntary goal was announced in the COP5 in Bonn and promised an effective emissions reduction between 2 and 10% (Barros and Conte Grand, 2002).

However, the goal was never met. When it was presented (the end of 1999), a new national government had been chosen, which had already announced their disagreement with the goal. The later governments adopted the same position, and Argentina continues to adhere to the principle of common but different responsibilities, which states that the countries that must reduce the emissions are the ones which have historically been responsible to have caused the climate phenomenon.

In the COP20, Argentina subscribed ro the Lima Call for Climate Action, which invited the signatory parties of the Convention to present their INDC in the first trimester of 2015. It would contribute to a binding agreement to be reached in the COP21 in Paris. Up until three months before the COP21, only seven INDCs were presented, Argentina not being represented.

Although there is not a quantified goal, Argentina has developed in recent years a series of actions to reduce the level of emissions. These include a carbon fund to encourage projects under the UNFCCC’s Clean Development Mechanism, a national program for the Rational Use of Energy and Energy Efficiency, a national program encouraging the use of bio-ethanol and biodiesel, a law for the sustainable management of forests and an urban solid waste management plan. Lastly, Glaciers Preservation Law N. 32.016 (recently created) dictates basic principles to protect glacial water sources nationally. Argentina also takes part in the carbon markets, offering CER units from projects that reduce or capture CO2 (related to the capture of methane in the sanitary fillings and to the substitution of fossil by biomass).

The national policy as regards the objectives of emissions can also be seen in the National Strategy of Climate Change, which in 2013 developed the potential of emissions reduction for each subsector. Table 1 details the potential of mitigation of each of the actions selected by sector.

Table 1 Situation of the Actions and Potential of Reduction

Table 1

Adding up the mitigation potential of all the actions with estimations of limitations of ghg emissions, Argentina would be able to reduce 13 MtCOe in 2020.


Barros, V. and Conte Grand, M. (2002) ‘Implications of a dynamic target of greenhouse gases emission reduction: the case of Argentina’, Environment and Development Economics, vol 7, pp547-569

SAyDS (2013) ‘Estrategia Nacional en Cambio Climático. Estado de situación metas sectoriales Dic 2013’,, accessed 10 August 2015

3. Given that any national ghg emissions reduction target is implicitly a position on what ethics, justice and equity requires of it, to what extent has the nation expressly identified the justice or equity basis that it has considered in determining a ghg emissions reduction target percentage level?

Argentine official communications have not explicitly identified ethics and justice as a foundation for various considerations on ghg reduction. The words ethics and justice are not used in any of the presentations of the closing reports of the 3NC. However, in a less literal interpretation of Argentina’s position, it is possible to find that the notion of (environmental) justice would be a part of the second component of the 3NC (‘Strengthening Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation’)1, one of its reports being about Social Vulnerability, Hazards and Risks.2 Social indicators such as infant mortality, lack of access to drinking water or unemployment are considered there and variables of the kind are recognized to be important to mitigate and facilitate an adequate adaptation to climate change. Therefore, this report’s perspective, included as a section in the 3NC, involves the acknowledgement of the link between social issues, situations of structural injustice and further aspects of climate change (such as ghg emissions). In any event, the scope of these social dimensions that would answer to a justice criterion, though in a slightly indirect way, is not substantial in the report’s general framework.


1. This information is available at
2. This report proposes the application of a social vulnerability index facing disasters in order to evaluate the heterogeneous social situations in Argentina. This index is then combined with basic climate data. Available at:

4. To what extent, if any, has the national debate about the nation’s INDC considered or acknowledged that the nation not only has economic interests in setting its ghg target but also ethical obligations to those who are most vulnerable to climate change?

Argentina’s national debate has considered ethical and justice aspects about the INDC to a small extent. Only some social actors with limited access to mass media have drawn attention to such aspects in the debate about ghg, aiming at acknowledging the interests of the most vulnerable social sectors.

In the national debate there is little presence of the ethical dimensions of climate change, as well as of those related to justice or human rights. There is little reference in the mass media, especially in some particular newspapers such as Página 12,1 and, as it will be dealt with in the answer to question 6, the reflections are contained in opinions made by leading world figures. The theoretical approaches to address these issues are very dissimilar, ranging from those which represent the Catholic Church view, as expressed in a recent encyclical,2 to that expressed by certain Latin American scholars, who state that the issues related to climate change should be understood in relation to other socio-environmental problems, analysed from the Buen Vivir3 or the Ecología de Saberes4 approaches. Those frameworks that go beyond the strict climate analysis to consider the connection between climate change with other social issues and economic activities are marginal in public opinion and its presence is restricted to certain academic circles or social movements as will be later developed in answer to question 5.

In the intellectual/academic/scientific field in particular, there is a dominant tendency towards the more biophysical definitions of climate change, being in preponderant roles the naturalistic view and the natural sciences in relation to the problem of climate change and its solutions. On the other hand, in social studies on climate change, instrumental and qualitative approaches, which are far from encouraging a debate on the ethical and justice dimensions, also prevail. Only exceptionally are some sectors of social sciences devoted to developing a critical approach that addresses structural causes (social, economic, ethical and justice-related) of climate change problems. Unfortunately, this kind of proposals and analyses, considered in the scope of public opinion, are a minority.


1. For further details refer to
2. For further details refer to;
3. (Translator’s note) The concept of Buen Vivir comes from the ancient worldview of the indigenous people in the Andean region of South America. According to this ethical perspective, nature is seen as a subject instead of an object, thus the respect for life and nature that those who live by this principle show. For more information refer to
4. (Translator’s note) The theory of Ecología de Saberes is based on the acknowledgement of the plurality of heterogeneous knowledges without interfering in their autonomy.

5. To what extent have NGOs or other major participants engaged in climate change policy formation at the national level examined the national INDC from an ethics, justice, or equity perspective?

The commitment of civil society organizations in general is directed to problematize the climate agenda. Social movements understand climate justice as a struggle for a change in structural issues related to a determined development model. On the other hand, some national environmentalist NGOs orient their actions towards the production of knowledge and the transference of information about climate issues. In this sense, Argentina has produced a document that analyses the policies in reference to the farming and forestry sector (the National Report on the State and Quality of Public Policies on Climate Change and Development in Latin America).

Besides pointing to a participation directed ‘to watch’ governmental policies on climate change, the NGOs and civil society organizations have asked for the conformation of spaces of social participation in the scopes of debate and formulation of policies. These spaces serve for the formulation of proposals and for the formal expression of the criticism that civil society directs to the Argentine government. This is the case of the Foro del Buen Ayre (Buen Ayre Forum) integrated by fifty-one environmental NGOs related to climate change. They particularly emphasize the necessity that policies be implemented to avoid greater ghg emissions. Besides, criticism is directed towards the productivist tendency in the approach and treatment of climate change issues.

On the other hand, we can identify social organizations and social movements which, without having as a direct objective to take part in the national agenda on climate change, question the development models which allow the extraction, exploitation and predation of natural resources, the latter implying extending the reaches of climate justice towards social and environmental justice.

It is worth pointing out the social and political battles conducted parallel to the conferences and summits organized by the international organisms. An exemplary experience (and remarkable because of its importance) was (of year 2010) that which appeared as an alternative forum to the 15th UNFCCC. The meeting was summoned by the Bolivian government; it gathered representatives of the indigenous nations, indigenous groups, farmers, social associations, scientists, academics and official delegations.
From the collaborative work after several days, the writing of the ‘Acuerdo de los Pueblos’ (‘Agreement of the Peoples’) was reached, where the capitalist system is held responsible for the main causes of climate change. Moreover, it is important to emphasize the creation of the Tribunal Internacional de Justicia Climática y Ambiental (International Court of Climate and Environmental Justice) as an institutional space created from a bottom up institutionality, facing the necessity to acknowledge and to respond to climate crimes and to the violation of the rights of nature.

Among the sectors that emphasize the concepts of justice and ethics, it is interesting to mention the social movement Vía Campesina, an International Peasant’s Movement, which struggles for an integral agrarian reform and food sovereignty, offering agroecology as an alternative model to face the effects of global warming. These social movements demand climate justice explicitly, pointing out that those who undergo the climate and ecological impact are those social groups that do not cause it. The National Indigenous Peasant Movement (MNCI) is articulated to this movement in Argentina.

6. To what extent has the national media covered issues concerning the national INDC with respect to ethical, justice and equity issues?

The INDC is not discussed in the national media. Only emissions from some economic sectors, always related to other countries’ emissions, are mentioned. The interest of the media on climate change, in general, is not constant. There are peaks of attention related to high profile international events, such as the COPs, scientific meetings, or statements either made by leading world figures, such as Pope Francis or the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon. The coverage content is determined by their opinions and refers to international issues: mainly scientific forecasts on climate change and its impacts on agriculture.

The local (national) implications of climate change come to light especially when catastrophes or extreme events which cause important damages to the population (floods or forest fires) occur. These coverages do not include explicit references to ethical, justice or equity issues. Nevertheless, they do discuss (though superficially) the social, political and economic dimensions of the problem, aiming at finding the causes of the catastrophes: for example, urban developments on wetlands, excessive raise in livestock production in areas which are not suitable for this purpose, the advance of the agricultural frontier with GM crops, the application of chemicals which are highly toxic and harmful to the soil, land clearing and land use planning which are influenced by economic and political interests, and which hinder any regulation aiming at territorial planning. In these local treatments of climate change the ethical and justice aspects appear implicit because the unprivileged areas are the ones which turn out damaged, a fact that reveals the socioeconomic contrasts between the urban and developed areas and deprived neighbourhoods and precarious settlements located in vulnerable lands highly exposed to suffering the damages of such events.

Though to a lesser extent, the media also relate global warming to the development model. In this respect, climate change involves ethical, political and economic challenges, implying political decisions and drastic transformations in the country’s production profile in the long term.1 This would mean to transform energy generation, infrastructure, transport, agriculture and waste management, and admit that arguing about temperature means to argue about economic development models and what is fair and what is not.

In spite of the acknowledgement of the development model in the Argentinian press, the media do not take explicit sides and they put themselves in the place of mere spectators, rather than active agents (Mercado, 2013).

In an explicit way, justice and equity on carbon emissions and the commitments to reduce them appear in publications by small media, as well as in press releases from NGOs and environmental organisations. Nevertheless, justice contents are not associated with local INDC situations. Instead, they are set out in international terms in regards to negotiations, obligations and commitments by those countries which emit the most, and the rest of the countries.


1. Information available at


Mercado, M.T. (2013) ‘De la reducción de emisiones al cambio de paradigma: la construcción social de las soluciones al cambio climático en la prensa argentina’, Razón y Palabra,, accessed 10 June 2015

7. Before any nation may adopt an INDC or climate policy it often has to satisfy national economic interests. Yet many nations fail to disclose the national economic interests that have actually affected the lack of aggressiveness of the national INDC when commitments are made under the UNFCCC. Given this, what is known about the actual basis for the aggressiveness of the national INDC?

The possibilities of implementing a high-impact climate change policy in Argentina are subordinated to economic growth policies and to the industrialization process: for Argentina—a post-neoliberal developing country—industry, agriculture and mining developments are a priority. During the last twelve years, the GDP has increased considerably. According to the SAyDS gas inventories, ghg emissions have grown steadily, together with an increased demand of electrical energy and GDP. Only two clear falls in the emission levels are observed. They correspond to the economic crisis that the country went through between 1999 and 2002, as well as the 2008 global economic crisis. That is to say, in general terms, the ghg in Argentina have increased together with economic growth, as it is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1 Ghg in Argentina


Source: Based on the ghg inventory from the 3NC (SAyDS, 2015)

This development policy has clearly favoured not only national but also multinational companies from the different areas of production and finances (cement producers, oil companies, agrochemical companies, petrochemical companies, agribusiness actors, open-pit mining companies, banks, etc) which are not precisely characterized by protecting the environment and which exercise their territorial power for several reasons: to access strategic natural resources, to emit larger amounts of ghg, to pay fewer taxes and avoid complying as much as possible with socio-environmental regulations applicable in Argentina and its provinces.
In this sense, the environmental initiatives (generally promoted by socio-environmental movements) (Wagner, 2014) are resisted rather than favoured by the different national and provincial administrations. Such is the case of the Ley de Bosques Nativos (Native Forests Law) that opposes the expansion of the agricultural frontier and which was strongly resisted by the provinces, arguing that agribusinesses need to deforest (Ryan, 2014).

Facing the climate change challenge, Argentina shows a weak governmental position, despite adhering to the Kyoto Protocol and the global financing policies for climate change mitigation and adaptation. That is to say, with the possibility of getting global financing, Argentina fulfils (though not entirely) its duties in relation to gas inventories, socio-climatic projections and mitigation and adaptation measures. This is due to the fact that the government advocates the discourse in favour of the right to development and the lack of responsibility on ghg emissions, as expressed in answer to question 1. The actions to face climate change are thus stalled at low-rank governmental offices and have rarely an impact on politics and economy.


Ryan, D. (2014) ‘Política, cambio climático y desarrollo: una revisión de la política climática en el sector agropecuario y forestal de diez países de América Latina’, Investigación Ambiental Ciencia y Política Pública, vol 6, no 1, pp15-27

SAyDS (2015) Tercera Comunicación Nacional de la República Argentina. Inventario de Gases de Efecto Invernadero de la República Argentina – Años 2010 y 2012, vol 1 – Energía,, accessed 11 September 2015

Wagner, L. (2014) Conflictos socioambientales – La megaminería en Mendoza (1884-2011), Editorial Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Argentina

8. What formal mechanisms are available in the nation for citizens, NGOs and other interested organizations to question/contest the nation’s ethical position on climate change?

The formal mechanisms that are stipulated so that civil society can position itself and take action in view of climate change policies are structured around a series of legal instruments and norms that regulate the spaces and the rules of social participation articulated by the State and its institutions.
As for formal mechanisms that inform on the rights of the Argentine citizenship with regard to the environment, in the Argentine Constitution (in its 1994 reform), Article 41 establishes: ‘All inhabitants enjoy the right to a healthy, balanced environment, apt for human development and so that the productive activities satisfy the present necessities without jeopardizing those of the future generations; and it has the duty to preserve it’.
In 2002, National Law N° 25,675 (Ley General del Ambiente–Bien Jurídicamente Protegido) (General Environmental Law–The Environment as a Legally Protected Good) was passed, which establishes the guidelines of state policy in environmental issues, seeking not only to the preservation and care of the natural and cultural environment, but to its recovery. The State is made to provide environmental information to the citizenship.
The General Environmental Law also prescribes that the National Environmental Policy foster social participation in the processes of decision-making, and establish the right of every citizen to give their opinion in administrative procedures related to the preservation and protection of the environment.

Additional to these legal devices, the Department of Participation and Social Communication (DPyCS) has as its main aim to promote and articulate the relations with civil society organizations, and to strengthen citizen involvement in the search of solutions to environmental problems connected to social development. These procedures have certain limitations at the time of their implementation, since they assign a determined role to social participation, which is only reduced to administrative processes, and the social will is not acknowledged as binding in the final political decision-making.

The existence of formal mechanisms for social participation in environmental issues does not mean that these are effective platforms for debate and social construction of an environmental and climate agenda between different actors. An example of this is that recently, some NGOs required the National Government (through press release) to establish participation mechanisms and contribution from social organizations and the academic sector in the process of construction of the INDC target, which should be presented at the Conference of Parties (COP21) of the UNFCCC in Paris. In many opportunities, NGOs have required the government to communicate their INDC, but the government has avoided giving concrete answers.

9. Are you aware of any regional, state, provincial, or local governments in your country that has acknowledged ethical responsibility for climate change? If so, what have they said?

Ethical responsibility is not mentioned in the 3NC. Neither is this concept mentioned in the description of the organization nor in the actions of the Department of Climate Change. In the same way, ethical responsibility is not mentioned in the item ‘Basic Aspects of Climate Change’, from the Climate Change Agency web page.

In the publication Climate Change in Argentina, developed in the framework of the technical cooperation of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) towards the Climate Change Agency, through the ‘Strengthening Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation’ project, in 2009, responsibility is mentioned. Nevertheless, it is referred to in relation to acknowledging common but different responsibilities, on the part of all nations in relation to this phenomenon, and thus the different answers which are necessary to face it. In a local scale analysis, the representative of the Federación Argentina de Municipios (Argentine Municipality Federation) mentions in the publication that greater political responsibility must be assumed by local governments as well as generate a clear debate for action. We owe to ourselves a development plan for the years to come (Szymankiewicz, 2009).


Szymankiewicz, J. (2009) ‘Acuerdo ciudadano con la Tierra. El rol de los gobiernos locales y el cambio climático’, in N. C. Marín (ed) El Cambio Climático en Argentina,, accessed 10 June 2015

10. Has your national government taken any position on or otherwise encouraged individuals, businesses, organizations, subnational governments, or other entities that they have an ethical duty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

In a general and formal way, we can mention the National Strategy on Climate Change (ENCC) of the SAyDS, whose target is

to coordinate the participation of all the governmental sectors and to establish a national action framework facing this problem. This strategy will contain the necessary policies, measures and actions, mainly focusing on a low carbon economic growth and sustainable development, strengthening and increasing the national actions carried out in the struggle against climate change (Comité Gubernamental sobre Cambio Climático).

Nevertheless, beyond formal programs and regulations, which were closely linked to the promotion of development, the national government neither promotes nor demands the considerations of ethical aspects on emissions from other involved sectors. Moreover, as formerly stated, the opposite happens: there is not an ethical and justice-related content which is treated directly in the national policies on emissions reduction, and it is some sectors of civil society that demand it from the government instead.


Comité Gubernamental sobre Cambio Climático, ‘Estrategia Nacional en Cambio Climático: Estructura’,, accessed 10 May 2015, p3

11. What recommendations would you make to get the nation or civil society in the country to take ethics and justice issues seriously in climate change policy formulation?

We believe it is necessary to make the following recommendations, not only to the governmental sector and civil society but also to the scientific sector.
Firstly, it is important to redefine climate and environment in the agendas of governmental institutions. Climate and environmental institutions in general are hardly central, being rather formal in nature. The unstable political culture and the high rate of public officials’ turnover make it difficult to develop a public policy on climate and environment in the long term. In light of that, it is necessary that climate and environment be constituted as state policies rather than government policies.

Secondly, and to contribute to the previous statement, the principles of justice and climate ethics should go beyond formal political institutions and appear more in the agendas of informal political organizations, political coalitions outside the government, social movements and NGOs. As stated in answer to question 6, organized civil society has greatly contributed to make the scopes of climate justice more complex, driving it towards the social and political arena. Out of its vindications and struggles, it is possible to gain key learnings to move forward towards an integral political system, which is sustainable as regards common natural goods and territories as well.

Thirdly, Argentina will have to find new political-institutional mechanisms for its legislations to be effectively implemented. It has ground-breaking laws for the protection of the environment and natural resources (Land Use Law, Native Forests Law and Glaciers Law). However, they have shown serious limitations in their implementation due to obstacles posed by the interests of major economic groups.

Fourthly, it is urgent to take political, social and human dimensions of climate change seriously. This goes beyond considering the anthropogenic causes of climate change and implies to show the structural aspects of the development model and its consequences. The close link between climate change and development policy in Argentina generates unsustainable effects on the climate and natural resources and emphasizes economic inequalities between actors whose livelihoods depend on them. In concrete terms, to approach the notions of justice and ethics inherent to climate change implies to recognize that the socio-political and economic processes of transformation (globalisation of economy and politics, liberalisation of agriculture, unsustainable exploitation of natural resources), establish the forms and characteristics that the impacts of climate change take in our countries.

Finally, it is urgent to reconsider the scientific perspectives that must be taken into account when making political decisions. There is a need to generate public policies that consider not only the approaches of natural and physical sciences, its methods and criteria, but also perspectives of social sciences to complement the former, articulating nature/society/culture. To include aspects related to justice and ethics when making decisions on climate change will imply the broadening of scientific definitions of climate change, as much as those of its primary actors.


3NC: Third National Communication
CER: Certified Emissions Reduction
COP: Conference of Parties
DPyCS: Dirección de Participación y Comunicación Social (Department of Participation and Social Communication)
ENCC: Estrategia Nacional en Cambio Climático (National Strategy on Climate Change)
JICA: Japan International Cooperation Agency
GDP: Gross Domestic Product
GM: Genetically Modified
INDC: Intended National Determined Contribution
MNCI: Movimiento Nacional Campesino Indígena (National Indigenous Peasant Movement)
NGO: Non-Governmental Organization
PRONUREE: Programa Nacional de Uso Racional y Eficiente de la Energía (National Program for the Rational and Efficient Use of Energy)
SAyDS: Secretaría de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sustentable (Department of Environment and Sustainable Development)
UN: United Nations
UNFCCC: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

This entry was posted in Argentina, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s