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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is one of the major players in the global financial architecture. Created with the Bretton Woods agreement of 1944, its focus is on the macroeconomic and financial stability of country members. But, in achieving this, it does not integrate the social and environmental effects of the policies it recommends, nor the risks and opportunities presented by climate change, the impacts of which often exacerbate the debt crises of Global South countries.

Thus, despite publicly declaring that it has incorporated a climate perspective in the design of its programs, the IMF pushes countries to deepen their dependence on the exploitation of fossil fuels, when their burning is the main cause (historical and present) of global warming.

Argentina is an emblematic example of this contradiction, as the report The IMF, its climate policy and the conditionalities for Argentina, which Recourse and Periodistas por el Planeta (PxP) developed on the basis of information contained in public IMF documents, exposes.

Credits: Pablo Pirovano


Argentina is currently the IMF’s largest debtor, with 28.8% of the institution’s total global debts. In other words, 1 out of every 4 dollars that the IMF has in loans around the world is in the country. In 2023, debt repayment and interests took USD 2618 million out of the national treasury. For 2024, this figure is estimated at USD 2883 million. The total debt would be canceled in 2042.

It is important to note that Argentina contracted this debt in 2018, a year in which a historic drought depressed its GDP. Despite this, what the IMF proposes for Argentina, as well as what the country proposes for itself, is far from taking climate impacts into account.


The IMF, its climate policy and the conditionalities for Argentina analyzes the country documents published by the IMF from 2016 to early 2024. By reviewing them, it becomes clear that, even though the IMF recognizes that Argentina is among the top 25 global contributors to climate change, it proposes the deepening of a model anchored and with strong incentives for some of the sectors that emit the most, such as agribusiness and fossil fuels.

The formation Vaca Muerta —the world’s second largest shale gas reserve and fourth largest shale oil reserve— plays a prominent role in the IMF documents. They position it as a key part of Argentina’s economic solution, not only because it would enable the reduction of energy imports, but also because it would open up the export horizon in the short term. So much so that Vaca Mueta is even proposed as a solution to the crisis generated by the drought of 2018, and then also in 2020 and 2023.

In other words, to deal with the economic effects of a climate impact, the IMF recommends the expansion of an activity that generates more global warming.

“The focus of the IMF’s work is on macroeconomic and financial stability. It is from this point that the institution focuses on working on the challenges of climate change. This approach has major limitations, because it does not lay out a concept of ‘macroeconomic stability’ that includes climate impacts, moving away from a comprehensive change of the business as usual,” explains Federico Sibaja, IMF Campaign Manager at Recourse, and author of The IMF, its climate policy and the conditionalities for Argentina.

“In fact, the current climate strategy prioritizes macroeconomic stability over other objectives, opening the door to the expansion of fossil fuel in Global South countries with oil and gas reserves to ensure debt service repayment and balance of payments stability,” says María Marta Di Paola, also author of the report and senior researcher at PxP. She adds:

“Therefore, the IMF ‘climate concern’ shows a clear contradiction with its usual modus operandi. This encourages countries to reduce their fiscal spending and increase exports without analyzing its social and environmental impacts, as is the case of Argentina, which requires a wake-up call.” 

This concern is not limited to Argentina, but extends to Uganda, Senegal, Surinam, Colombia and Indonesia, among other countries where the IMF operates.


  • 3.3% have increased the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Argentina since the Paris climate Agreement came into force.
  • 7% in absolute terms by 2030 must be reduced the GHG emissions in Argentina for the country to meet its climate targets.
  • 40% fell agricultural production during the 2022/2023 campaign in Argentina due to the drought, impacting exports to the same extent. This led to a 65% drop in export duty collection in 2023 compared to the previous year. 
  • 1.5% of its GDP is the estimated economic losses suffered by Argentina due the 2023 drought.
  • USD 403,836 million was Argentina’s estimated debt stock in 2023. This is equivalent to 88.4% of its GDP.
  • 28.8% was the ratio of debt service to Argentina’s annual export revenues in 2023. This indicates that the external debt service is so high that exports cannot generate enough foreign exchange to repay the interests and the capital owed.
  • 70% higher were the subsidies to the supply of fossil fuels than to its demand in Argentina’s 2023 Budget.
  • More than USD 4 billion was spent by the Argentine government on fossil fuel supply subsidies between 2016 and 2023. These went to private companies for gas extraction in Vaca Muerta. The amount is 9% of the Stand-By Agreement with the IMF.

Download the report here:

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