In an article published by Reuters, Argentine officials said they are the first government worldwide to require that companies engaged in potentially hazardous activities buy insurance to cover environmental damage. Government officials said about 35,000 companies in Argentina would have to comply with the new rules.

Argentina’s Congress approved the law in 2002, but companies didn’t comply with it because -ironically- there weren’t regulations to define which activities were considered dangerous.  During 2003  the office defined hazardous activities, established a criteria for policies amounts, and created a division of environmental insurance.

“Argentina is taking a leadership role in the region on this issue,” Sergio Chodos, an undersecretary at the Environment Secretariat. “There’s a lot of environmental insurance sold in Europe, but it’s not obligatory because it doesn’t have to be. In Argentina, lawmakers understood that this had to be made obligatory,” he said. Insurance policies will range in price from 120,000 pesos ($36,090) a year to 50 million pesos ($15 million), depending on a given company’s activities, output and the potential risk involved.

Global Warming
In February 2008, Argentina’s biggest newspaper, Clarin, dedicated its cover to the country’s contribution to global warming. Clarin asserts that even though the country isn’t near the developed nations levels of contamination,  Argentinians contaminate more than Indians, Chinese and Brazilians.

“Argentina contributes between 0.5 and 0.6 %  to the total greenhouse gases emissions, a laughable level compared with the 25%  the United States emit. But on a deeper analysis, Argentinians emit per capita more than Chinese and Hindus, whose countries are in full economic development, or even more than Brazilians and Uruguayans.”

The Numbers
44% of Argentinean emissions come from agriculture and cattle activity, and 70% of that,  from the methane that the 55 million cows that inhabit the country exhale. According to Guillermo Berra, a professional from the INTA, one way to reduce emissions would be to change the cows’ feed and improve their reproductive cycle. With measurements like that, “there could be a reduction between 10 and 20 percent of emissions”, says Berra.

Soy cultivation, gas waste, dirty energy and garbage fillings are among other Argentinean contributions. Soy cultivation is one of the worst contaminants in Argentinean agriculture. “Soy emits nitrous oxide, which is 300 times stronger than carbon. If above that, we continue to destroy native forests, the balance is tragic,” observes Osvaldo Canziani, Argentinean representative in the Inter-Governmental Panel of Experts in Climate Change from the United Nations.