Argentina will host the Latin American Climate Summit this Wednesday (8). President Jair Bolsonaro’s absence at the meeting benefits Argentine President Alberto Fernández’s strategy to fill the void left by Brazil as the region’s environmental leader and, thus, to approach US President Joe Biden.
The Latin American summit will be a preview of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP-26), which will bring together world leaders in Glasgow, Scotland, from 31 October to 12 November. Alberto Fernandez will lead a virtual meeting titled “High-Level Dialogue on Climate Action in America” at the Casa Rosada Bicentennial Museum, the seat of the Argentine government.
The stated purpose of the meeting is to foster dialogue to emphasize the urgency of climate action in the US, promote the architecture of innovative mechanisms in the implementation of actions, and encourage hemispheric cooperation. Among the five panels, the meeting will include the Presidents of Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic, the Prime Minister of Barbados, the US Special Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio. Guterres, in addition to the environment ministers of Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Panama.
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The absence of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is one of the most visible, but also the most predictable. Far from emptying the meeting, The void left by Brazil is conducive to Argentina’s aim to occupy this position as a negotiator between the region and world leaders. Fernandez hopes the meeting will be a springboard for a bilateral meeting with Joe Biden.
loans against climate action
The meeting began to take shape last May 14, when Fernandez proposed the idea of a regional conference on climate change to American John Kerry during a bilateral meeting in Rome.
that moment, Argentina has outlined a strategy that aligns its domestic financing needs with the international community’s objective of environmental protection: the exchange of credit for actions to preserve the environment.
“I explained to John Kerry that we should be thinking about ways to finance countries that address climate change. This may involve indebted countries, to whom, instead of providing financial resources, the United States can reduce its debt. could”, Fernandez explained at the time.
The talks between the Argentine president and Joe Biden’s official envoy also had a way of involving Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in his commitment to protect the environment. Kerry outlined this geopolitical aspect about Brazil.
“President [Alberto Fernández] There is great interest in helping countries in Latin America and its leadership on the climate issue is welcome. We look forward to working with Bolsonaro going forward,” Carey said.
Argentina wants to lead the region
The climate issue is a window of opportunity that Argentina found as a reference in Latin America, taking advantage of the Brazilian government’s contempt for the matter. Fernández raised the environmental flag, a topic still unknown to Argentina. He wants to lead the climate agenda in the region opposed to Bolsonaro, in an open disgrace to world powers.
Last April 21 and 22, during the Biden-promoted Ibero-American Summit and Summit of Leaders on Climate, Argentina linked the issue of the environment with its internal needs for money.
“Credit to developing countries, incorporating elements of climate action to beneficiaries and establishing a good linkage between financial relief and environmental care“, Fernández’s proposal at the Ibero-American meeting. “Payment for ecosystem services and debt swaps for climate action,” said Argentina’s leader at the leaders’ summit on climate.
Argentina wants to deepen its dialogue with Washington regarding the need for a financial agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The United States is the main partner of the IMF and the only country with veto power on the agreements.
If former President Donald Trump represents distance for the Argentine government, Joe Biden stands a chance to come close, just the opposite of what he represents for Brazil.
“Argentina should capture the void that Brazil left behind. With a good political nose, Fernández leverages international forums to take a stand,” Argentine international analyst Ral Aragon tells RFI.
“The question is to what extent Fernández’s environmental agenda is genuine or is it just part of an international policy strategy,” asks political scientist Carlos Melendez of Universidad Diego Portals in Chile.
Internal Limits of Regional Leadership
However, the strength of the Argentine president’s international prominence may be limited by the quick loss of domestic popularity, all indicated by opinion polls. The decline is dramatic: approvals for shares of Fernandez rose from about 70% in April 2020 to about 25% in August 2021.
“In this scenario, it is irrelevant whether Fernández wants to be an environmental leader or not. Fernández’s aspirations for environmental leadership have no support in the current reality of Argentina”, of Jorge Faurie (2017–2019), former Chancellor of the RFI make assessments.