Advertisement

Javier Milei about-turns as he commits to Paris climate agreement

Javier Milei was sworn into office on Sunday in Buenos Aires
Javier Milei was sworn into office on Sunday in Buenos Aires - Gustavo Garello/AP

Javier Milei, the new president of Argentina, has about-turned on his commitment to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

Mr Milei, who was sworn into office on Sunday, had previously said he intended to rescind Argentina’s participation in the agreement after calling climate change a hoax.

But the country’s new top climate diplomat, Marcia Levaggi, told Reuters on Sunday that Mr Milei’s government had sent her to head the Argentine delegation at the United Nations Cop28 climate talks underway in Dubai.

She arrived on Sunday just as Mr Milei was being inaugurated in Buenos Aires to chants of “Libertad!” and “Presidente!”

Amongst the world leaders to attend Mr Milei’s inauguration were Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky, Hungary’s Viktor Orban and Chile’s Gabriel Boric.

After the ceremony, Christina Kirchner, the former vice-president, appeared to give the middle finger to Milei supporters as she left office.

Mr Milei – a right-wing economist, political outsider and former TV pundit – won November’s general election with the highest percentage of votes since the country’s return to democracy in 1983, against the backdrop of a crippling financial crisis.

Mr Milei campaigned with radical policies, including replacing the country’s peso with the US dollar, shutting the central bank, and halving the number of ministries. He also proposed holding a referendum on the legality of abortion, easing regulation on guns and called the climate crisis a “socialist lie”.

“All these politicians who blame the human race for climate change are fake and are only looking to raise money to finance socialist bums who write fourth-rate newspapers,” Mr Milei previously said.

Such comments fuelled doubts around the future of the country’s environmental agenda, particularly when he rejected the Paris Agreement – which Argentina signed in 2015 – for being “cultural Marxism”.

Javier Milei was inaugurated on Sunday to chants of 'Libertad'
Javier Milei was inaugurated on Sunday to chants of 'Libertad' - MATIAS BAGLIETTO/REUTERS

Yet, since his victory three weeks ago, the self-described “anarcho-capitalist” has begun backpedalling on some of his more contentious policies.

He has moderated his tone, filled his first Cabinet with mainstream conservatives rather than ideological libertarian allies, and put more radical ideas like dollarisation onto the back burner.

He has also backtracked on plans to scrap the nation’s health ministry.

Mr Milei used his maiden speech to warn that he had no alternative to a sharp, painful fiscal shock to fix the country’s worst economic crisis in decades, with inflation heading towards 200 per cent.

“The outgoing government has left us with hyperinflation and it’s our maximum priority to do everything possible to avoid such a catastrophe, which would leave poverty above 90 per cent and destitution above 50 per cent,” he said.

“For that reason, there’s no alternative to austerity.”