US, Argentina sign climate pact, urge aviation emissions deal

Obama’s climate diplomacy drive continues, agreeing to work with Argentina and Cuba on efforts to decarbonise global economy

By Ed King

US president Barack Obama and Argentina president Mauricio Macri have agreed to work together on climate change and approve the 2015 Paris agreement by the end of 2016.

The pair said they would work to secure a global deal to cut aviation emissions this year, phase out potent warming gases known as HFCs and scale up renewables.

“We share a commitment to protect this planet for our children and grandchildren,” said Obama in a press conference on Wednesday. “The president’s support was critical to success in Paris.”

A factsheet released by the White House said the US and Argentina would sign and join the 2015 UN climate deal “as soon as feasible”.

The countries would also “work together to support efforts toward early entry-into-force of the Agreement”.

Deep decarbonisation: Obama’s greatest climate legacy?

The UN hopes a record number of world leaders will make it to New York on 22 April for a signing ceremony.

Once 55 countries covering 55% of global emissions have joined, the deal comes into force.

The two major oil and gas producers said they would “promote safe and responsible development of unconventional oil and gas resources” and pursue joint research into nuclear technologies.

Argentina’s pledge to cut HFCs – commonly used in fridges and air conditioning – marks a change from previous administrations, said Durwood Zaelke from the US-based Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development.

The UN hopes to secure global agreement under the ozone-busting Montreal Protocol to wipe out HFCs later this year.

“The HFC amendment is the single biggest, fastest piece of mitigation available in the near term,” said Zaelke.

“It will prevent the equivalent of 100 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2050 and avoid up to 0.5°C of warming by the end of the century.”

Analysis: Could Cuban detente bring a new energy dawn?

Earlier this week, Obama concluded a similar climate deal with president Raul Castro after his historic visit to Cuba.

“The United States will also work with Cuba to pursue cooperation in the areas of disaster risk reduction, addressing ocean acidification, advancing climate-smart agriculture, and sharing best practices and lessons learned through international initiatives focused on adaptation and low emissions development,” read a statement.

“The United States welcomes opportunities to work with Cuba to enhance our bilateral cooperation on climate change, and also work together to play a positive role in addressing this urgent global challenge through international fora.”

Read more on: South America | US | |