Argentine and Brazil agribusiness have an “ecological surplus”
Economist Nicolás Torre, from the IERAL Institute of the Mediterranean Foundation, published an extensive thread on the social network Twitter, highlighting that both Argentina and Brazil have a positive “ecological footprint”. That is, they have more natural resources available than those they consume annually to survive.
Torre’s report came in response to accusations against South America in recent weeks. First by The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, when he said that Brazil does not adequately care for the Amazon; and then by the young Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg, who accused five countries, including Argentina and Brazil, of inaction in the face of global warming.
Specifically, Torre used as a basis a system called “Ecological Footprint accounting”, designed in 1990 by two researchers from Columbia University, which translates as “Accounting of the Ecological Footprint” and that measures the demand and supply of natural resources in a given territory (a country, a continent or the entire planet).
There are two key terms. The first is the “ecological footprint” that measures the ecological assets required by a given population to produce the natural resources it consumes and to absorb its waste, especially carbon emissions. In terms of supply, “biocapacity” is calculated, which is the productivity of ecological assets, both in their ability to generate food and to absorb waste (C02).
Both concepts are expressed in global hectares; which are globally comparable standardized hectares with global average productivity.
Thus, if a country has an ecological footprint that exceeds its biocapacity, it is considered to have an “ecological deficit” and ends up meeting its demand by importing resources, liquidating its own ecological assets (such as overfishing), and/or emitting dioxide from surplus carbon to the atmosphere.
Conversely, if the biocapacity exceeds the footprint, it is considered an “Ecological Reserve”. Or, as opposed to the deficit, you could say a “surplus.”
The evaluations are up-to-date until 2012 and, in the case of Argentina, indicate that it has a biocapacity greater than its ecological footprint. “Argentina’s population almost doubled in the last 60 years and the ecological offer per capita declined. But the footprint remains around four global hectares,” Torre said.
Similarly, Brazil has more resources than it consumes, far from what European leaders express that it should “take care of its ecology” in order to join the EU-Mercosur agreement.
These assertions, as far as Argentina is concerned, are in line with the statement made by the Directorate-General for Environmental Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which challenges the conclusion reached by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that agro is Argentina’s second largest carbon emitter.
According to the IPCC, agricultural production is responsible for the 39 of greenhouse gas emissions, with livestock being the activity with the greatest impact on the final result.
The Directorate of Environmental Affairs states that measurement only takes emissions into account, and that it leaves aside one key aspect: it does not contemplate the carbon sequestration that domestic agricultural production makes.
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