Report - Argentina has huge potential to become global frontrunner on climate action

Press release

Argentina could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by up to 94% below 2014 levels by 2050 in three key sectors: electricity, residential buildings and land-based passenger and freight transport, setting it well on the way to becoming a global frontrunner in an ambitious energy transition, according to an analysis released today by the Climate Action Tracker (CAT).

The CAT analysis - “Scaling Up Climate Action: Argentina” is part of the “Scaling Up” series that looks at climate mitigation opportunities for countries as governments consider increasing their Paris Agreement targets and submit their long-term low GHG emission development strategies, due by 20201.

Using the “PROSPECTS” scenario evaluation tool it developed for the task, the CAT first looked at all emitting sectors in Argentina to identify opportunities for change, then focussed in on three areas with the greatest potential: electricity supply, residential buildings and land-based passenger and freight transport, which make up 40% of Argentina’s 2014 emissions.

The results show that Argentina can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 94% below 2014 in these three areas by 2050, equivalent to a 7% reduction economy-wide, and 38% below a Current Development Scenario.

“We find that it is economically beneficial for Argentina to strengthen its decarbonisation efforts: the country will see additional benefits from reduced pollution and modern housing - and without a negative effect on employment,” said Prof Niklas Höhne, of NewClimate Institute.

These efforts would bring positive results for employment: for example, a switch away from gas, new jobs in renewable energy and low-carbon industries would balance job losses in fossil fuel related industries.

Taking the action outlined in the three sectors identified by the CAT would mean Argentina would overachieve its Paris Agreement targets by 2030 (both conditional and unconditional), so increasing these targets would make sense.

“It is clear that Argentina is in a position to improve its Paris Agreement target and it could show leadership by making this announcement at the upcoming Climate Summit in New York,” said Höhne.

For Argentina to switch to low-carbon electrification in land-based passenger and freight transport, and residential housing, the most critical step is to fully decarbonise the electricity sector, the analysis found.

“Argentina is richly endowed with renewable resources, and it already has ambitious 2025 renewable energy expansion targets, with the potential to ramp up renewables and reduce emissions from electricity generation by up to 80% of 2014 levels by 2040. However, strengthened policy efforts and significant investments in grid infrastructure are needed to ensure Argentina achieves these targets,” said Ursula Fuentes from Climate Analytics.

“With increased policy efforts , this country could indeed become a global frontrunner in transforming its electricity sector. But it has to abandon its planned development of large-scale gas extraction and exports, as they could lead to a lock-in of a high emitting energy supply.”

When determining its long-term strategy by mid-century, Argentina can consider these identified mitigation potentials for the three focus sectors. To decarbonise the whole of its economy in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5˚C warming limit, Argentina will also need to take action in its agriculture and land use sectors, the CAT found.

1 | This report on Argentina is part of the first round of the CAT’s Scaling Up Climate Action country series. So far, we have released reports on South Africa and the European Union. Indonesia, Turkey, and Australia will be released this year.

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