Environmentalists denounce regulatory ‘regression’ as Milei rolls back protections

Natalia Kidd

Buenos Aires, Dec 31 (EFE). – The extensive reform package promoted by Argentine President Javier Milei implies a regulatory “regression” that rolls back the protection of forests, glaciers and other natural resources, warned several environmental organizations consulted by EFE.

Milei, who assumed the presidency on Dec. 10, in his campaign went so far as to affirm that climate change is a “cyclical phenomenon independent of the existence of man.”

Once in office he signed a controversial decree to deregulate the economy, and submitted to parliament a bill declaring a public emergency, granting him sweeping powers in economic, political and social matters, which will also have a direct impact on environmental safeguards.

“We are very concerned about what is behind this project, because it includes changes that would violate the protection of the environment and ecosystems,” Diego Salas, director of Greenpeace Andino Programs, told EFE.

“This law jeopardizes the protection of our native forests and our glaciers,” he added.

Environmental organizations are not ruling out legal action against what they consider an “environmental regression,” and they are calling on Congress to reject the reform.

The initiative, promoted by the new government, includes changes to the 2010 Glaciers Law, the 2007 Native Forests Law, and the 2009 Environmental Protection Law for the Control of Burning Activities.

“These regulations were mostly the product of the mobilization and demands of the population over the years,” Martún Vainstein, national coordinator of Climate Save Argentina, told EFE.

“It is unacceptable that because of an ideological bias, the present and future of the country are being mortgaged: its freshwater reserves, its food security and sovereignty, its biodiversity and the right to life and a healthy environment,” Vainstein stressed.

The reform facilitates the deforestation and burning of grasslands for agricultural or real estate purposes, even without formal authorization.

It also reduces the state resources available for the maintenance of forests, and allows economic activities such as mining in periglacial areas.

Additionally, it includes other worrying aspects, such as the flexibility of fishing permits.

This measure “will greatly alter the marine fauna, when Argentina already has great problems with its marine species,” Andrés Nápoli, executive director of the Foundation for the Environment and Natural Resources (FARN), explained to EFE.

“The spirit of this project is to liberalize the economy and make the private sector more relevant. But the constitutional mandate of environmental protection requires active public policies, budgets and compliance with the international commitments assumed, with this project Argentina will be far from that,” Nápoli added.

Argentina recognized environmental rights in the 1994 constitutional reform and ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016.

The reform promoted by Milei also benefits the fossil fuel sector and promotes carbon credit markets, a mechanism that requires strict regulations to ensure its transparency.

“Large polluters, such as oil companies or agribusiness, once their pollution quota is filled are given free rein to buy carbon credits from other companies in order to continue polluting and thus avoid penalties,” Vainstein warned.

The regulation of protests promoted by the new government is also causing “concern” among environmentalists.

“This double impact, both on the preservation of the environment and on the exercise of the right to peaceful protest, can in no way be accepted,” Salas said. EFE

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