Your April 23rd article on the prospective expropriation of the Spanish-owned Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPF) oil company by Argentine state officials does an admirable job of explaining the fractious state of energy politics in Argentina today. Yet, escaping the purview of your analysis is any mention of the takeover’s potential repercussions on Argentina’s involvement in the area of international climate governance.
President Cristina Fernández’s rhetoric surrounding the expropriation process makes clear her intention to exploit Argentina’s newfound surplus of oil and natural gas inventories for the benefit of all Argentines, even if this means propelling her nation forward through a “dirty” development process. Since being denied inclusion in the Kyoto Protocol’s “Annex 1” group of developed nations, Argentina has occupied an ambiguous position within the folds of international climate politics, apparently unclear of its status as a developing nation and of whether or not it is qualified to act upon the carte blanche such a status bestows. Should Fernández now resolve this uncertainty by ordering an expansion of hydrocarbon-based development, the sincerity of Argentina’s commitment to efforts to combat climate change will be drawn into question. With Kyoto expiring at the end of this year, such efforts are bound to become increasingly important not only in the pursuit of a renewed global consensus regarding climate issues, but also as settings for interstate diplomacy. Fernández’s actions following the announcement of YPF’s intended nationalization could very well result in a widened credibility gap at the international level, a consequence the Argentine president should not overlook simply because of existing momentum for expropriation.