The United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26) showed important signs of coincidence between a large part of the countries, but remains unknown as to whether the commitments made will actually be put into practice. In this context, for years Europe has been promoting the commitment of economic powers to reduce the emission of gases in order to ensure that global warming does not exceed 1.5 ° C by the end of the century and avoid greater natural disasters such as those that they are already seen in different parts of the world.
In this regard, the ambassador of the European Union in Argentina, Amador Sánchez Rico, spoke with TN and he warned: “We cannot wait any longer.”
– What is the European position at COP26?
– The European Union (EU) put the “green deal” on the table, with which we seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. And for 2050, the goal is achieve climate neutrality.
– What does the European Union expect from Argentina on climate issues?
– Days ago we had a very fruitful meeting between the EU ambassadors with the Minister -of Environment and Sustainable Development- Juan Cabandié. We know that we cannot achieve climate neutrality without work with our partners, including Argentina, who also has great potential to help achieve that goal.
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– The most critical of the summit repeat that more actions and fewer words are needed. Does the block consider the same? Is time running out?
– Totally, time is running out. That is why we have set this EU limit for 2050. They are not just good purposes, there is legislation behind it and there are concrete actions, such as the commitment to green hydrogen, decarbonizing all our energy, among others. In addition to the commitments made by the countries, the president of the European Commission also announced a package of one billion for the reforestation of the planet. There is a wide range of initiatives. I know needs a public financing scheme, but also a public-private one and innovative mechanisms.
– What deadlines do we have?
– Not only does the European Union say so: time is running out and we can’t have the luxury of waiting. One thing is 2050, but another is 2030. There are practically 8 years left in which we have a very ambitious goal such as reducing emissions by 55% compared to 1990. This shows the urgency of what we are talking about.
– Europe suffered a lot this year from climatic tragedies …
– The planet is sending us signals that we are abusing all your resources and that it is time to change the way we proceed.
A deal stalled by environmental policies
Despite the fact that it was announced with great fanfare in June 2019, the free trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur never came to fruition because the ratification of all the parliaments of the countries that make up the blocs is missing. At first, there was talk of the objection to imports that some of the most important European countries, such as France, made. But later it emerged that the main obstacle to the completion of the signature was the environmental policies of the Latin American partners, especially Brazil.
– Does the main obstacle to the ratification of the free trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur respond to environmental issues?
– The agreement goes beyond commercial matters, we see it as a very ambitious agreement also in the political and cooperation sphere, where it is signed and finalized. It remains to be ratified by all the legislative powers of the countries that make up the European bloc. It is true that certain environmental concerns have emerged since the signing. However, we are now trying to provide answers to these questions in order to reach a solution so that the agreement can be ratified.
– Is it possible to hope that if Brazil complies with the commitments assumed during the COP, the free trade agreement can advance faster?
– We hope so, it all adds up.
– And what other obstacles are there?
– At the moment they are those, from an environmental point of view.
– Then there are no economic or commercial obstacles. Much was said about the competition of Argentine exports in France.
No. It is the most ambitious agreement in the world. We are talking about the second trade bloc, which is the EU, with the fifth, which would be Mercosur. There is a lot of complementarity between the sectors of commerce between the blocks. Both parties would gain much more from the agreement than without it.
– Recently, the Portuguese ambassador to Argentina mentioned that Europe prepares a counter-project to propose to Mercosur members to unlock ratification.
– It is exactly what I said before, everything revolves around environmental concerns.
– What are the sectors that could be most exploited in Argentina in environmental terms?
– The most important thing with Argentina is that we have a 1990 agreement that deserves to be reviewed and updated. It has rained a lot since that year: we were 12 countries and now we are 27, and Argentina has changed a lot too. Meanwhile we continue working. The EU is the first direct foreign investor in the country and we are the second commercial partner for Argentina. With the agreement, this could increase, these numbers could be improved.
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– Have you already started the dialogues to update the agreement?
– In the last meeting of the mixed commission they talked about this. Let’s hope that next year we can put a new institutional framework between Argentina and the EU.
– Regarding investments, you mentioned hydrogen and Patagonia. Is it possible to expect an increase in European investments in Argentina in the energy sector?
Naturally, that is the bet of the European Union. The idea is to work for increase the volume of investments in strategic sectors such as renewable energies and green hydrogen, in order to take full advantage of Argentina’s enormous potential.
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