Argentina will stay in Paris climate agreement under Milei, negotiator says

FILE PHOTO: Argentina's president-elect, Milei, addresses supporters in Buenos Aires
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By Jake Spring

DUBAI (Reuters) -Argentina under incoming President Javier Milei will remain part of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the country's new top climate diplomat told Reuters on Sunday, despite the leader's past comments that global warming is a hoax.

Veteran climate diplomat Marcia Levaggi said that she has the full support of the new government, which sent her as head of the Argentinian delegation at the United Nations COP28 climate talks underway in Dubai.

She arrived on Sunday just as Milei was being inaugurated in Buenos Aires.

"This is why I came to this COP, to reassure our party stakeholders and people following the process that Argentina will stay committed to the Paris Agreement. We will honour all our environmental agreements," Levaggi said.

"Milei is a liberal, he's a libertarian, and he believes in market forces. And the market demands to include measures to address climate change."

Argentina will also keep its commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050, she said.

Levaggi, who has been serving as Argentina's ambassador to Senegal, said she was called to Buenos Aires about a week ago and asked by the new foreign minister to take the job.

The diplomat said she was "positively surprised" to be asked to take up the role.

Milei will eliminate the Environment Ministry as part of a promised effort to shrink the government, but the environment will be "distributed among different ministries," Levaggi said. This is part of Milei's wider public sector reforms and the environment will not have a lower priority in his administration, Levaggi said.

"Argentina is in a dire economic situation, you know that. And this administration was elected with a strong mandate of fiscal restraint and reform of the public sector," she said.

Levaggi has decades of experience on the issue, having worked with the Adaptation Fund for climate change and as a negotiator, most recently at the COP25 talks in 2019.

(Reporting by Jake Spring; Editing by Susan Fenton)