Climate Crisis: Argentina and the United Kingdom
The differences seen between a Developing Country and a First World Country in tackling the Climate Crisis.
In February 2019, I went to the capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires. I was shocked to see the way things were in the capital, small things from free plastic straws in convenience stores, to huge bins with mixed waste. This was an incredible difference I noticed, when comparing the country to the United Kingdom. So why doesn't the government of Argentina follow that of the United Kingdom, making reforms to the way recycling works, and tackling some of the problems contributing to the growing Climate Crisis?
One thing has to be made clear at the start of this article. Argentina is defined as a developing country by the World Population Review, whereas the United Kingdom is a First World Country. Argentina is currently going through a harsh economic crisis, currently referred to as the Macrisis (after their current President Mauricio Macri). The implementation of Austerity measures in exchange for a loan by the International Monetary Fund leaves the country with little money to make changes and means there are harsh reforms to help save money in their budget. That's where the story starts.
In the United Kingdom, implementation of pro-environment policies is relatively easy, with recycling becoming common practice in almost every household, the implementation of renewable energy sources, and even reducing plastic waste in supermarkets, as well as at home. This isn't as easy to do in Argentina.
As previously mentioned, Argentina has a harsh economic crisis, meaning buying solar panels for building complexes being somewhat an impossible task, unless you are an owner of a big business, or have substantial financial funds. Along with this, the Argentine population cannot afford to switch their petrol and diesel powered cars for electric or hybrid cars, and taking that into consideration, there isn't the infrastructure to implement charging points in the capital.
Comparing that to the United Kingdom, we are steadily moving towards a country that uses electric and hybrid cars, and moving towards using greener energy. But are our efforts to help save the planet rendered obsolete if a country like Argentina continues to use fossil fuels?
In Argentina, public transport is used more than can be said for the United Kingdom. Buses, or los colectivos as they are known as in Argentina, are heavily used within Buenos Aires, with tickets costing an average of about 20 Argentine Pesos (37 pence as of August 2019), meaning public transport is cheap to use. Not only that, los colectivos run frequently and in groups of two or three buses. For example, travelling towards Floresta from Recoleta, you can catch the 132 bus, usually two of them arrive at the same time for a cost of 37 pence.
The Buenos Aires underground system is nowhere near as big as that of London, but like the bus services, it's affordable, and you often find yourself struggling to get onto a train due to the vast amount of people using it.
Taking this into consideration, the United Kingdom probably uses cars a lot more than taking public transport, meaning our efforts aren't rendered pointless in the slightest. In regards to renewable energy, Argentina could use solar power easily, due to their hot, sunny summers, however the Argentine people lack the funds to purchase solar panels, and given that people mainly live in apartments, rather than houses, the responsibility would ideally fall on the owner of the apartment complex.
So what is the solution? How can we get a developing country to become greener, in efforts to help save the planet and reduce pollution?
- Debt for Nature Swap: A debt for nature swap could be introduced into the country, swapping a lump sum of debt for the implementation of renewable energy sources, or even for the planting of more trees. Not only would this have the potential to help reduce the effects of the economic crisis, it could help to boost jobs, giving jobs to people planting trees and installing solar panels.
- Banning plastic straws: As previously mentioned, I was surprised to see that plastic straws were free in some convenience stores when buying a drink. Upon my return in July 2019 to the capital, I was pleased to see that McDonald's don't give out straws at all with drinks. However this could be extended to the whole country, banning plastic straws entirely, replacing them with metal or paper straws.
- Public Transport Only Day: An idea that has floated around social media for years, having a public transport only day. This would mean that no cars can be on the roads, with the exception of taxi's, reducing the pollution for just one day, but could also get people into the habit of walking, using the eco-bikes installed everywhere in the capital, or using the buses and trains. One day, every month.
- Installing more eco-bikes: Like in London, Buenos Aires have bicycles, free of charge to use around the capital. The problem is that there just aren't enough. Walking down the streets of Buenos Aires seeing all the bike docking stations empty emphasised the need for more bikes.
Argentina has implemented green policies to help reduce the pollution output, but could still do more, and that is said for most developing countries. The problem is the lack of funding, something that could be resolved with the help of First World Countries.