No. 9 May 1997 Supplement

Country Study News

The Newsletter of the UNEP Collaborating Centre on Energy and Environment


Industrial pollution, especially water pollution, is one of the most urgent problems on Argentina's environmental agenda. Its high concentration in densely populated areas (the one that could be called "extended Greater Buenos Aires") strongly contributes to the problem. Air pollution from motor vehicles in densely populated urban areas adds to the industrial contamination and results in critical environmental problems. Major environmental impacts in rural areas of Argentina are deforestation, and the associated increases in flooding, erosion and elevation of the phreatic bed, as well as agrochemicals (pesticides and fertilisers) with regard to the generation of toxic waste. Oil and natural gas production are responsible for rather minor environmental problems at the national level, although their impact may be significant in production areas.

Transport and industry are the major GHG sources, followed by the energy sector itself. Another significant source of GHG emissions, in the form of methane, is waste. The advance of the agricultural frontier is responsible for the above mentioned deforestation which also has global environmental consequences in the form of carbon sink removal.

In recent years Argentina has undergone a process of institutional and regulatory transformation, contributing to a decentralisation of decision making and increasing the importance of the market. The energy system, the main actor of such transformation, is significantly responsible for the environmental agenda. The process applied by the state in the past aimed at substituting non­renewable energy sources, consequently causing a positive result on gas emissions and other environmental impacts. The new situation, whose objective is to maximise benefits and avoid getting involved in capital intensive investments, gives rise to a new context in which the intention to orient private actors' decisions toward environmentally clean and efficient options requires new strategies and provides opportunities and obstacles that should be explored.

In this context, the federal authorities are carrying out a comprehensive study of climate change issues in Argentina, covering the GHG emission inventory, vulnerability and adaptability analysis, and mitigation options. The study is funded by the GEF (through UNDP) and is scheduled to submit a national report to the UNFCCC by the end of 1997. The study, undertaken by the Secretariat of Science and Technology, began in July 1996 and is being carried out with the cooperation of a large number of public and private institutions.

The UNDP/GEF study on climate change is complemented by the UNEP/GEF project "Economics of Greenhouse Gas Limitations" which includes Argentina as a case study. The Secretariat of Science and Technology is responsible for the project while technical execution is by the Institute of Energy Economics. A national workshop to be held in June 1997 will discuss the effects of technological innovation on future mitigation scenarios.

Project Coordinator: Daniel Bouille, IDEE, Argentina

UNEP Centre Project manager: Arturo Villavicencio

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Last updated: 30 July 1997
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