Since 2015, when President Mauricio Macri was sworn into office, Argentina has shown significant positive developments in the climate arena by adopting policies such as the ‘Biofuels Law’ and the new ‘Renewable Energy Law,’ ratifying the Paris Agreement in September 2016, and presenting a revised and more ambitious NDC at COP22 in November 2016. As such, it is one of the few countries we have assessed that has increased the ambition of its NDC since the adoption of the Paris Agreement.
In its second Biennial Update Report (BUR), Argentina published an update of its national emissions inventory until 2014, which reports emissions levels of about 50 MtCO2e below those published in the third National Communication (due to updated methodologies and corrections). This change in historic data brings down the emissions projections for 2030 by around 45 MtCO2e, compared to the levels in our previous assessment. Under current policies, emissions from all sectors (excluding LULUCF) are still projected to grow significantly - by about 50% above 2010 levels by 2030.
The CAT rates Argentina’s unconditional NDC target as “Highly Insufficient” - if Argentina were to increase its ambition by making its conditional target unconditional, we would rate it “Insufficient.”
In November 2016, Argentina submitted its revised Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), including an unconditional absolute emissions reduction target limiting emissions to 483 MtCO2e by 2030, including land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) emissions (405 MtCO2e excl. LULUCF). This is equivalent to a 22% increase compared to 2010 levels or 74% above 1990 levels, excluding LULUCF. Argentina has also put forward a conditional target to limit emissions to 369 MtCO2e by 2030 including LULUCF (310 MtCO2e excl. LULUCF), which equals to a reduction of 7% compared to 2010 levels or an increase of 22% compared to 1990, levels excluding LULUCF).
We rate Argentina’s NDC target “Highly Insufficient”, based on the unconditional target. The “Highly Insufficient” rating indicates that Argentina’s commitment is not at all consistent with holding warming to below 2°C let alone with the Paris Agreement’s stronger 1.5°C limit. If all government targets were in this range, warming would reach between 3°C and 4°C. If Argentina were to drop the conditions for the conditional target, it would move to the CAT’s “Insufficient” rating. However, the “Insufficient” rating still indicates that the country’s climate plans are in the least stringent part of their fair share range and not consistent with holding warming below 2°C let alone with the Paris Agreement’s stronger 1.5°C limit.
Paris Agreement targets
On November 2016, Argentina presented its revised NDC. It includes two absolute emissions reduction targets for 2030 (Government of Argentina, 2016a).
The unconditional target limits emissions to 483 MtCO2e by 2030 including LULUCF and, according to our calculations, to 405 MtCO2e excluding LULUCF by 2030. This unconditional target is equivalent to 22% above 2010 levels and 74% above 1990 levels excluding LULUCF.
The conditional target, including LULUCF, limits emissions to 369 MtCO2e by 2030 and, according to our calculations, to 310 MtCO2e excluding LULUCF by 2030. This is equivalent to 7% reduction below 2010 levels and 22% above 1990 levels, excluding LULUCF.
During the presentation of the revised NDC at COP22, the Minister of Environment and his team presented a comprehensive set of mitigation actions, in all emissions sectors that were taken into account when revising the NDC. The minister also emphasised the government’s willingness to take action on climate change, especially compared with Argentina’s past record of limited participation in the international negotiations (Ministry of Environment of Argentina, 2016).
The revision process included two steps and led to a very small increase in mitigation ambition (about 1%), compared to the previous NDC target. This came as a result of revising the baseline scenario and the mitigation actions included in it when developed for the Argentina’s first NDC. In a second step, the methodology for quantifying historical emissions was updated to the IPCC 2006 guidelines, causing a reduction of about 19% of emissions from agriculture and LULUCF in 2012 (compared with 1996 guidelines). This caused the baseline scenario to move down and, given that initially the target was set as a reduction relative to BAU, so did the emissions reduction target. Finally, to reduce uncertainties related to the baseline and to take their commitment to action “one step forward”, Argentina decided to change the type of target and reported its national contribution as an absolute emissions reduction by 2030 (Ministry of Environment of Argentina, 2016).
CAT ratings are based on emissions excluding the LULUCF sector. To obtain the NDC emissions level excluding LULUCF, the CAT assumes that the share of the LULUCF emissions in 2030 will be similar to the share of these emissions in the NDC’s BAU scenario. This scenario was recently updated, and now projects that LULUCF emissions will reduce from current levels at a slower rate than previously assumed (3rd National Communication). The revision of the BAU LULUCF emissions projection is a laudable attempt by the government to accurately reflect “reality” as highlighted during its presentation of the revised NDC at COP22 (Ministry of Environment of Argentina, 2016).
Argentina submitted a list of unilateral and supported mitigation actions being undertaken across the energy efficiency, renewable energy, biofuels, forest management and waste management sectors. According to the submission “these initiatives have a direct and positive consequence in the emission reduction of GHG, contributing to the ultimate objective of the Convention” (Secretariat of Environment and Sustainable Development, 2010).
Argentina’s has an unconditional climate commitment for 2030 of limiting emissions to no more than 483 MtCO2e including LULUCF by 2030 (or to 405 MtCO2e excluding LULUCF). The commitment falls between two categories: “Critically Insufficient” and “Highly Insufficient.” We therefore take into account Argentina’s additional conditional target of limiting emissions to no more than 369 MtCO2e including LULUCF by 2030 (or to 310 MtCO2e excluding LULUCF). This additional target falls into the upper end of the CAT’s “Insufficient” range. We therefore rate Argentina in the lower emissions category of “Highly Insufficient”, rather than “Critically Insufficient”.
A second argument for giving Argentina this higher rating could be the revision of the NDC, in which Argentina transparently shared the details of their mitigation target in the updated version of their NDC, putting forward an absolute target (i.e. an absolute limit to their emissions growth as opposed to reductions below business-as-usual, or an intensity target). The updated NDC increased the mitigation target both in absolute and relative terms, compared to the first NDC submitted. We consider these actions as good practices that increase the robustness of the commitment.
The “Highly insufficient” rating indicates that Argentina’s climate commitment in 2030 is not consistent with holding warming to below 2°C, let alone limiting it to 1.5°C as required under the Paris Agreement, and is instead consistent with warming between 3°C and 4°C: if all countries were to follow Argentina’s approach, warming could reach over 3°C and up to 4°C. This means Argentina’s climate commitment is not in line with any interpretation of a “fair” approach to the former 2°C goal, let alone the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit.
If Argentina decided to increase its ambition by turning its conditional target into an unconditional one, the country would move to the “Insufficient” rating under the CAT assessment. Commitments with this rating are in the least stringent part of their fair share range and not consistent with holding warming below 2°C let alone with the Paris Agreement’s stronger 1.5°C limit. If all government targets were in this range, warming would reach over2°C and up to 3°C.
The CAT ratings are based on climate commitments in (I)NDCs. If the CAT were to rate Argentina’s projected emissions levels in 2030 under current policies, we would rate Argentina “Critically insufficient,” indicating that Argentina’s current policies in 2030 are consistent with a warming of over 4oC: if all countries were to follow Argentina’ approach, warming would exceed 4°C. This means Argentina’s current policies are not in line with any interpretation of a “fair” approach to the former 2°C goal, let alone the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit.
For further information about the risks and impacts associated with the temperature levels of each of the categories click here.
Under current policies, emissions from all sectors (excluding LULUCF) are still projected to grow significantly, namely by 50% above 2010 levels by 2030, reaching almost 450 MtCO2e in 2030. Energy-related emissions are projected to increase by about 60% between 2010 and 2030, and the agriculture and cattle-ranching sector emissions to rise by about 30% in the same period (Secretariat of Environment and Sustainable Development, 2015).
The new government of President Mauricio Macri has introduced new policies, including a renewable energy law and a biofuels law (Government of Argentina, 2015b & Government of Argentina, 2016b). These policies are projected to contribute to emissions reductions of around 16–17 MtCO2e in 2030. The new renewable energy law (Law 27191), published at the end of 2015, aims to increase the share of renewables (including hydro smaller than 50 MW) in total power generation to 20% by 2025 (Government of Argentina, 2015). Further, the new biofuels law (Decree 543/16) adopted in March 2016 requires a minimum 12% of bioethanol blend in transport fuels from 2016.
Emissions from the agriculture sector are still projected to account for almost 30% of the total GHGs in 2030, with 12% coming directly from cattle. Considering the high level of methane emissions, combined with the associated deforestation this activity has caused, the agriculture sector offers great potential for Argentina to constrain its emissions (Secretariat of Environment and Sustainable Development, 2015). On the other hand, the LULUCF sector is reported as a source of emissions projected to decrease in the future (Secretariat of Environment and Sustainable Development, 2015). Argentina has also worked on improving its LULUCF accounting methodology in recent years, leading to a change in the sectoral results compared to previous years reports (Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development, 2015).
As part of its 2nd Biennial Update Report (BUR), Argentina has recently published an update of its national emissions inventory until 2014 (Government of Argentina, 2017). The report includes an updated historical series of emissions per sector: the numbers differ from those of former emissions inventories due to revisions and corrections of the methodology used, mostly in the agriculture and LULUCF sectors. The newly published numbers are, on average, about 50 MtCO2e lower than those that were published in the 3rd National Communication. We harmonised the emissions projections from the National Communication to the new historical emissions from BUR, which brought down the emissions projections for 2030 by around 45 MtCO2e, compared to the numbers in our previous assessment.
Based on our current assessment, Argentina will have to implement additional mitigation actions and plans to meet its unconditional and conditional targets. In this sense, the Argentinian NDC represents additional ambition beyond its current policies.
Historical emissions for 1990–2014 were taken from the national GHG inventory published in the 2nd Biennial Update Report (Government of Argentina, 2017).
NDC absolute emissions levels including LULUCF are provided directly in the NDC for the unconditional and conditional targets (Government of Argentina, 2016a). However, to distinguish LULUCF emissions from the total GHG emissions and calculate its ratings, the CAT assumes that the mitigation efforts will be proportional to the sector's relevance in terms of emissions contribution, thus maintaining the share of each sector's emissions similar across the years until 2030. This assumption is in line with the information provided by the Ministry of Environment on the expected shares of emissions of each sector in the present and until 2030 (Ministry of Environment of Argentina, 2016).
The CAT current policies scenario for Argentina was developed based on the country’s GHG emissions projections of the 3rd National Communication (Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development, 2015) which uses 2012 as base year, adjusted to the new historical emissions dataset published in the 2nd Biennial Update Report (Government of Argentina, 2017). In addition to the policies covered in the 3rd National Communication scenario, the GHG mitigation impacts of the ‘Biofuels Law’ and the new ‘Renewable Energy Law’ were quantified and added to the mitigation potential reported in the current policies scenario of the National Inventory. These policies were published simultaneously or after the 3rd National Communication, therefore, their mitigation impact is unlikely to have been included in the current policies projections they report.
The biofuels law (Decree 543/16) was adopted in March 2016 and requires a minimum 12% of biofuels blend in transport fuels starting in 2016. To quantify its impact, we compared the current share of ethanol and biodiesel - as reported by the IEA (2016) - and its associated emissions under a BAU scenario, to a fixed share of 12% blend and its corresponding emissions expected under the biofuels law.
The new renewable energy law (Law 27191), published end of 2015, aims to increase the share of renewables (including hydro smaller than 50 MW) in total power generation to 20% by 2025. One issue that arose when quantifying the impact of Law 27191 was the need to differentiate between small (>50MW) and large hydro. For this, we based our calculation on the latest available data on the total generation capacity of the country, as reported by the Ministry of Energy (Ministry of Energy of Argentina, 2016) which estimates small hydro’s contribution to be around 2% of the total hydro capacity in the country.
The abatement potential of these two policies is estimated to be around 16-17 MtCO2e by 2030.
Government of Argentina. (2015). Law 27191 promotion of renewable energy for electricity generation.
Government of Argentina. (2016a). Primera Revisión de su Contribución Determinada a Nivel Nacional.
Government of Argentina. (2016b). Resolution 543/2016. Mandatory blending rates of bioethanol.
Government of Argentina. (2017). Second Biennial Update Report.
IEA. (2016). World Energy Outlook 2016.
Ministry of Energy of Argentina. (2016). Ministry of Energy Database: Generación Eléctrica - Centrales de Generación.
Ministry of Environment of Argentina. (2016). Presentation at COP22: Contribución Determinada a Nivel Nacional sobre Cambio Climático (NDC) República Argentina.
Secretariat of Environment and Sustainable Development. (2010). Argentina communication regarding Copenhagen Accord.
Secretariat of Environment and Sustainable Development. (2015). Tercera comunicación nacional de la republica argentina a la convencion marco de las naciones unidas sobre el cambio climatico.