Leader of The Green Pary of Argentina-Silvia Beatriz Vázquez

The Argentinian legislative election is fast approaching and is set to take place on November 14, 2021. The Green Party of Argentina has laid out their electoral platform and seek to bring a science-based approach to congress. Silvia Beatriz Vázquez, leader of the party, presented an ambitious electoral platform that seeks to revitalize the economy without sacrificing the environment. The party’s plan is divided into thirteen sections with a focus on renewable energy, a circular economy and deforestation. Argentina has some of the most unique faunas in the world, with 18 different eco-regions. Unfortunately, the country has been plagued with environmental degradation caused by clumsy governmental policies, illegal practices harmful to the environment, and at times, prioritizing profit above the wellbeing of Argentinians and the land they live on.

Deforestation
The Greens would like to introduce ecocide in their criminal code. Ecocide is defined as the “Destruction of the natural environment by deliberate or negligent human action”. Although the Greens have yet to explain how individuals will be convicted if they were found guilty of ecocide, it is an important first step in recognizing the criminal behaviour of destroying an ecosystem.

The “destruction of the natural environment” is ambiguous. By definition, agriculture would be considered destruction—or rather, an alteration of the natural environment. This would not be considered ecocide. Ecocide would focus on the illegal agricultural practices that are taking place in protected areas, illegal logging or the dumping of pollutants in bodies of water. If the Greens were to be successful in introducing this law, it could potentially mitigate the devastating effects deforestation has in the country.

Deforestation rates in Argentina are some of the worst in the world. To mitigate this issue, The Argentinian government created the Minimum Standards for the Environmental Protection of Native Forests—commonly known as the ‘National Forest Plan’. Although the intention may look good on paper, this law has not dramatically reduced deforestation practices in Argentina. The Forest law is divided into three categories:
Category I (Red) It has the highest conservation value. The forests cannot be cleared, used for logging, agriculture or any other form of development.

Category II (Yellow) The forests have a high to medium conservation value. They can be used for tourism and scientific research.

Category III (Green): Sectors of low conservation value that can be partially or completely exploited, with the prior completion of an Environmental Impact Assessment.

Unfortunately, the National Forest Plan does not conserve the wildest forests of Argentina. Around 78% of the wildest forest are located in zones that allow high human activities such as silvopasture, timber production, and/or forest conversion to crops which threatens the biodiversity of the region.


Source: Informing forest conservation planning with detailed human footprint data for Argentina (2021).

For example, the Chaco region has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world. This is due to extensive agricultural activities in the region. This deforestation has caused a change in the local ecosystem, affected the carbon storage of the region and created conflict among the inhabitant for the resources available. As Sebastian Martinuzzi, an expert in Wildlife Ecology asserted “There is a strong contradiction between the implementation of environmental policies and the measures taken by the governments to sustain economic growth based on the exploitation of natural resources”.



Source: Informing forest conservation planning with detailed human footprint data for Argentina (2021).

Renewable Energy

As the alarming rate of deforestation is taking place, the rise of Carbon dioxide in Argentina is rampant. According to a report by Climate Action Tracker, Argentina’s performance is “Highly Insufficient” to meet its 2030 emission reduction goals. The report states “Argentina’s policies and actions are also rated as “Highly insufficient” as they lead to rising, rather than falling, emissions”.

Source: Climate Action Tracker (2021)

The Green party of Argentina seeks to become carbon neutral by 2050. According to the International Finance Cooperation, Argentina has vast opportunities for renewable energy. Unfortunately, it has failed to make substantial changes in its fossil fuel dependency. Argentina had set a target of using 20% of renewable energy by 2025. Regrettably, due to internal governance issues, this target is put into question.

Argentina has one of the largest economies in Latin America. Unfortunately, Argentina’s economic prosperity was at the expense of its climate with an increase in its CO2 emission. One misconception held by many is that the shift to renewable energy may negatively impact the productivity of a country. However, as it was seen in Uruguay, which is the leading country in the world in renewable energy with 98% of its energy being renewable. Uruguay has not lost productivity but was rather able to create new employment opportunities through its green economy.

Uruguay’s former Director of Climate Change Ramon Mendes asserts Uruguay was able to achieve such a feat due to a “strong partnership between the private and public sectors, clear decision-making and a supportive regulatory environment”. Uruguay has demonstrated that a country can stay productive while still caring for its environment. If The Greens were to win and implement similar policies with the help and guidance of Uruguay, this would change Argentina for the better.

Circular Economy
The Greens stated, one kilo of waste is generated by the average Argentinian home. To mitigate this issue, they would like to implement similar policies then European countries. The Greens seek to transition to a circular economy. A circular economy is defined as retaining and recovering resources by reusing, repairing, refurbishing, remanufacturing and repurposing those resources. By doing so, the ecological footprint of a country would diminish. European countries have already started to adopt this model. Countries like Austria, Germany and Belgium have had high success with 60% of waste being recycled.

In Finland, additional electricity and heat are created by incinerating 58% of its waste. To further ensure the success of a circular economy, European governments work in coordination with manufacturing enterprises. They’ve created “Packaging Registry Centres” to improve the quality of packaging material that can be recycled again.

The Green party’s plan is logical and science-based. Their plan for a circular economy and an emphasis on renewable energy has been tried and tested by Europeans and their Uruguayan neighbour. Argentina is a country with enormous green economic potential. Introducing ecocide as a crime would certainly deter individuals from polluting and destroying local ecosystems. With a clear plan, bipartisanship among the political players and cooperation with the private sector, Argentina can become a powerhouse for the environment.

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