Colombia

Overall rating
Insufficient
Policies & action
Insufficient
< 3°C World
Internationally supported target
Insufficient
< 3°C World
Fair share target
Almost Sufficient
< 2°C World
Climate finance
Not applicable
Net zero target

year

2050

Comprehensiveness rated as

Acceptable
Land use & forestry

historically considered a

Source
Policies & action
Insufficient

Colombia’s current policies and action are not 1.5°C compatible when compared to its expected fair share contribution. Under current policy projections, Colombia’s 2030 emissions are likely to fall between 199-203 MtCO2e excl. LULUCF, which is far above their fair share contribution of 139 MtCO2e in 2030 for a 1.5°C consistent pathway. This is insufficient to meet Colombia’s NDC target.

Planned policies are estimated to cut emissions to between 176-180 MtCO2e in 2030, which is insufficient to meet Colombia’s NDC target (161 MtCO2e excluding LULUCF). Further policy action is needed.

We rate Colombia’s policies and action as “Insufficient”. The “Insufficient” rating indicates that Colombia’s climate policies and action in 2030 need substantial improvements to be consistent with the 1.5°C temperature limit. If all countries were to follow Colombia’s approach, warming would reach over 2°C and up to 3°C.

Colombia will need to implement additional policies using its own resources but will also need international support to implement further policies in line with full decarbonisation.

Further information on how the CAT rates countries (against modelled pathways and fair share) can be found here.

Policy overview

Colombia will need to both speed up its implementation of announced policies, as well implement additional mitigation measures within the decade to meet its NDC target. According to our assessment, Colombia’s current policies would reach levels of between 199-203 MtCO2e excl. LULUCF by 2030 (44-41% above 2010 levels), including the impacts of the pandemic. This is insufficient to reach the target set in its updated NDC target.

Colombia has set an emissions limit in 2030 of 169 MtCO2e, including LULUCF using AR5 GWP. We converted this value using GWP AR4 and estimated Colombia’s unconditional NDC target as 161 MtCO2e, excluding LULUCF, by 2030.

When planned policies (policies announced but not yet implemented) are quantified, our emission projections show that Colombia could reach emissions levels of 176-180 MtCO2e excl. LULUCF by 2030 (28-25% above 2010 levels). The mitigation potential of planned policies to achieve the 2030 target depends on the extent to which Colombia builds on LULUCF mitigation, such as deforestation reduction measures and land restoration.

In December 2021, Colombia enacted a new climate action, law N° 2169, which enshrined its NDC and net zero targets into law (Ley Climatica N°2169, 2021). The law was promoted by former President Ivan Duque, whose presidency ended in August 2022, leaving the implementation challenge to the new government.

In August 2022, newly elected president Gustavo Petro took office. With climate change at the top of his political agenda, he pledged to protect forests, reduce emissions from deforestation, make a sustainable energy transition away from oil investment and stop fracking. During his inaugural speech, he mentioned the importance of Colombia moving to a low-carbon economy and strongly committed to a low-carbon transition conditional on international cooperation.

The incoming government will need to ensure there is a just transition between its climate ambitions and ensuring a just and safe transition away from its fiscal dependency on fossil fuel rents. Additionally, the energy transition, a priority of the government, needs to be addressed in alignment with other national priorities such as economic recovery and fighting against poverty, violence and corruption.

In Glasgow, a number of sectoral initiatives were launched to accelerate climate action. At most, these initiatives may close the 2030 emissions gap by around 9% - or 2.2 GtCO2e, though assessing what is new and what is already covered by existing NDC targets is challenging.

For methane, signatories agreed to cut emissions in all sectors by 30% globally over the next decade. The coal exit initiative seeks to transition away from unabated coal power by the 2030s or 2040s and to cease building new coal plants. Signatories of the 100% EVs declaration agreed that 100% of new car and van sales in 2040 should be electric vehicles, 2035 for leading markets. On forests, leaders agreed “to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030”. The Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance (BOGA) seeks to facilitate a managed phase out of oil and gas production.

NDCs should be updated to include these sectoral initiatives, if they aren’t already covered by existing NDC targets. As with all targets, implementation of the necessary policies and measures is critical to ensuring that these sectoral objectives are actually achieved.

Signed? Included in NDC? Taking action to achieve?
Methane Yes Yes Yes
Coal Exit No N/A N/A
Electric vehicles No N/A N/A
Forestry Yes Unclear Yes
Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance No N/A N/A
  • Methane pledge: Colombia signed the Global Methane Pledge at COP26. Methane accounts for around 40% of the country’s emissions (excl. LULUCF), predominantly from agriculture. Colombia’s NDC update, which predates the methane pledge, includes a number of mitigation measures aimed at reducing methane emissions in the energy, waste and agricultural sectors. After signing the pledge, Colombia adopted a resolution related to addressing fugitive emissions.
    In its latest report to the UNFCCC, it also outlined planned measures in the waste sector. Colombia would need to reduce methane emissions by around 22 MtCO2e to adhere to the global pledge of a 30% reduction by 2030 below 2020 levels. Current policies are insufficient to even get it half the way there; however, if Colombia implements all the planned measures in the waste sector, it could achieve this pledge.
    We do not consider any of these actions to be new and additional to what Colombia was already planning as part of its NDC target. If Colombia continues with more pilot fracking projects, the risk of fugitive emissions will also increase, which could lead to higher methane emissions.
  • Coal exit: Colombia has not adopted the coal exit commitment. It depends on coal for roughly 10% of its power supply. The most recent energy plan did not include any additional new coal-fired power plants due to competitiveness reasons (not because of the coal exit pledge or any other climate commitment).
  • 100% EVs: Colombia has not adopted the EV pledge. We estimate that its current 2030 EV target is equivalent to about a 50% EV sales target. The Secretariat of Mobility from Bogota joined the pledge as a local government.
  • Forestry: Colombia signed the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forest and Land Use at COP26. Deforestation continues in Colombia continues increasing. Total deforestation in 2021 was 1.5% higher than in 2020 (Ministerio del Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible, 2022), and further measures still need to be implemented more rigorously. Deforestation continues to be a major source of emissions for the country.
    Its updated NDC includes a commitment to reduce the rate of deforestation to 50,000 ha/year in 2030, which means reducing deforestation three times faster than current values (about 174,000 hectares in 2021). Colombia also has a complementary target of reducing deforestation of natural forests to zero ha/year in 2030 using the Article 6 mechanism. Additionally, the updated NDC integrates other policy efforts regarding deforestation such as the strategy for deforestation control and forest management. In Glasgow, Colombia committed to declaring 30% of its territory as protected areas in 2022.
  • Beyond oil and gas: Colombia has not signed the alliance to work for phase-out oil and gas production. New president Petro has moved to ban fracking, with draft legislation already out for review.

Energy supply

Colombia has a high energy dependence on fuels, with fossil fuels accounting for 77% of Colombia’s total primary energy supply (TPES), of which 12% is coal (IEA, 2022) and 38% of Colombia’s TPES is provided by oil.

In 2021, oil and coal exports together accounted for almost 43% of Colombian exports (OEC, 2021) and economically, oil rents account for around 5% of Colombian GDP (Colombia Reports, 2022).

Under its updated NDC, Colombia has set sectoral energy mitigation targets, with measures already implemented and others planned. Measures include energy diversification and increased use of renewable energy sources, energy building programmes and transport improvements.

The Colombian coal sector is already facing uncertainty as pressure mounts for firms to decarbonise foreign investments. In 2021, Glencore, the world’s largest exporter of thermal coal, announced its withdrawal from mining rights in Colombia, and major Japanese trading houses have reduced their shares held in coal companies operating in the country (Argus Media, 2021; Obayashi, 2021).

Former president Duque’s administration adopted regulations to allow pilot projects for the exploration and production of unconventional fossil fuel reservoirs using hydraulic fracturing (fracking) techniques (Decree 328 , 2020). After going through an environmental assessment and licensing process, one pilot project was approved. However, as one of the first measures of the new administration, the government has taken a stance to ban fracking and proposed an anti-fracking law, currently under review (EFE, 2022; el Tiempo, 2022) .

Electricity supply

In 2020, Colombia generated 71% of its power from renewable energy, the vast majority of which comes from hydroelectricity. The rest of its electricity comes from fossil gas and coal, with a small amount from oil (International Energy Agency, n.d.). Colombia’s significant reliance on hydropower makes it vulnerable to long-lasting dry seasons: for example, hydropower generation fell significantly during the 2015-2016 El Nino.

While positive from a GHG emissions perspective in electricity generation, Colombia’s reliance on large hydroelectric dams has not been without controversy, local opposition and the potential for catastrophic impacts (Austria & Gonzalez, 2022). A case in point is the 2.4GW Hidroituango plant, where part of the dam collapsed in 2018 and led to the evacuation of 25,000 people and endangered many more (Parkin Daniels, 2018; Ray, 2018). The hydropower plant is finally set to begin operation in October 2022 (el Colombiano, 2022).

To maintain alignment with warming limits set under the Paris Agreement, 96-99% of electricity should be generated from renewable technologies by 2030 or by 2032 at the latest (Climate Analytics, 2021b). In developing countries and emerging economies, coal should be phased out of electricity production by 2040 at the latest. In Latin America, coal power generation would need to be reduced by 85% by 2030 (compared to 2010 levels), leading to a phase-out by 2032 (Climate Analytics, 2019). However, as of 2021, coal still accounts for roughly 15% of Colombia’s power supply (EIA, 2022). Models show that in 2025 Colombia should phase out coal to be fully decarbonised in a 1.5°C scenario (Climate Analytics, 2021a).

In 2022, Colombia is expected to generate 8% of its electricity with thermal power plants, i.e., coal, gas and oil. By 2027, this figure is projected to fall to 5.6% and further decline in the future. The most recent energy plan did not include any additional new coal-fired power plants due to competitiveness reasons: renewable and gas-fired power plants are cheaper alternatives (not because of the coal exit pledge or any other climate commitment).

Renewables

Colombia is expected to generate just over 1% of its power from non-hydro renewables in 2022. However, this will grow dramatically to 32% in 2027, with a step change between 2023 (5.4%) and 2024 (18.1%) (XM, 2022). Solar energy is driving this growth: by the end of 2023, a 487 MW solar park is expected to come online (Enerdata, 2022).

Part of the government’s energy sector mitigation strategy aims to reach 1500 MW of installed new renewable capacity by 2022, equivalent to roughly 9% of the electricity supply (Sánchez Molina, 2019). In 2019, Colombia began holding renewable energy auctions to promote the installation of non-hydro renewable energy in the grid. Colombia’s first renewable energy auction awarded in total roughly 2200 MW of wind and solar energy capacity. The installation of the capacity is still pending (Ministerio de Minas y Energía Colombia, 2020).

The third auction was held in October 2021. As a result, 11 new wind and solar generation projects were awarded, totalling 796.3 MW of installed capacity (International Renewable Energy Agency, 2021; Ministerio de Minas y Energia, 2021) .

In April/May 2022, the Ministry of Mines and Energy published a roadmap for offshore wind energy (RGG et al., 2022). It recommended that the Mining and Energy Planning Unit (UMPE) establish 2030 and 2040 capacity targets (Gonzalez & Restrepo, 2022).

This increase in renewable electricity capacity contributes to the objective of increasing electricity generation for energy security and sources diversification established in the sectoral mitigation plan for the energy sector (PIGCC-ME) (MinMinas & Gobierno de Colombia, 2018). The country’s National Development Plan (PDN) 2018-2022 sets up tax-based incentives for investments in renewable energy infrastructure and sets minimum quotas for the share of energy coming from renewable sources for commercial energy distributors (Ministerio de Minas y Energía Colombia, 2020).

The rest of the planned 11.2 MtCO2e energy sector mitigation target for 2030 is to be made up through increased energy efficiency in buildings and industry, reducing fugitive emissions from power plants and reducing overall energy demand (Gobierno de Colombia, 2020a; MinMinas & Gobierno de Colombia, 2018).

In an effort to strengthen the nation’s commitment towards power decarbonisation, the Colombian Ministry of Energy signed an agreement with eight energy companies to reach carbon neutrality in Colombia’s electricity sector by 2050 (MinEnergía Colombia, 2020). While this is a step in the right direction, it is likely not fast enough to be 1.5°C compatible, as global benchmarks indicate that national power sectors would need to be decarbonised by 2030, with a coal phase-out by 2040 for developing countries. A stronger message from the government, such as a concrete phase-out date for coal in the power sector, would certainly help progress and incentivise investors to move away from the resource.

Ecopetrol has committed to achieving net zero CO2 emissions for its own emissions (direct and indirect sources) by 2050 and a 50% reduction in all emissions (scopes 1, 2 and 3) by the same date. Its emissions scope 1 and 2 emissions were 10.9 MtCO2e in 2021 and an additional 136 MtCO2e from its scope 3 emissions (Ecopetrol, 2022b).

Hydrogen

In early 2022, Ecopetrol, a majority state-owned publicly traded company and the largest oil company in Colombia, began producing green hydrogen from solar energy at its first pilot project (Ecopetrol, 2022a). It is exploring other blue (from natural gas), green (from renewable energy) and white (from fracking) hydrogen projects. In July 2022, it signed a three-year agreement with Toyota to test the use of this green hydrogen (Rico, 2022).

Transport

Transport is a significant contributor to Colombia’s emissions, accounting for around 19% of national emissions, yet the overall mitigation action proposed in this sector is proportionally insufficient. There is a focus on increasing the sale and use of electric vehicles in the country, but no date to phase out the sale of ICE vehicles.

Concerns regarding fossil fuel vehicles abound in Colombia, not only from a climate perspective but also due to the extensive air pollution in many of its major cities (Consejo Nacional de Politica Economica y Social - Republica de Colombia, 2018).

Under its updated NDC, Colombia aims to have 600,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030, as well as retrofitting freight vehicles with cleaner technologies by 2030 (Gobierno de Colombia, 2020a). Law 1964, adopted in 2018, sets the legal basis for the 2030 electric vehicle target, along with intermediate targets for proportional increases of EVs in the national fleet and public transport networks, tax incentives for purchasing EVs, and minimum requirements for charging infrastructure in major cities (Ley N° 1964, 2019).

Colombia’s target to reach 600,000 EVs by 2030 is not aligned with the 1.5°C limit. Translating this target into a share of passenger vehicle sales is not a straightforward task, but the CAT estimates that it may equate to around 50% of sales in 2030, which falls short of meeting a 1.5°C compatible benchmark.

If a stronger target was adopted and sales were to reach 95%, following an S-curve growth pattern throughout the decade, EVs would number around 2.4 million in 2030. Such a sales target would not be unheard of in Colombian climate policy. The National Energy Plan’s most ambitious energy transformation scenario reaches 100% EV sales by 2025, which would be 1.5°C compatible.

Colombia has also set targets for government fleets and public transportation systems. A minimum of 30% of the government fleet must be composed of EVs by 2025, while cities are required to increase their share of electric bus purchases - from 10% in 2025 to 100% in 2035.

Beyond targets, building the necessary infrastructure to support an EV charging network is also critical. Colombia has established targets for fast public charging stations. By mid-2022, Bogotá should have at least 20 rapid charging stations, while five other designated cities are required to have at least five, bringing the total number of mandated charging stations to 40. The CAT estimates that 12,000 public rapid charging stations would be needed nationally to support its 600,000 EV target using international benchmarks and many more are required to support EV sales consistent with a 1.5°C pathway.

Recent legislative developments seem to be heading in the wrong direction, supporting natural gas. In August 2021, Colombia passed law 2128 which declared the use of natural gas to be in the national interest. The law includes a suite of measures, similar to those in the EV law, to promote the uptake of natural gas-powered vehicles and mandates that 30% of the new public transit fleet additions are to be powered by natural gas for the next ten years.

The new law undermines many of the positive steps Colombia had been making towards decarbonising the transport sector. It also frustrates the abilities of its cities to go faster than the national government in decarbonising their mass transit systems. The government has not heeded calls to repeal the legislation

Industry

Industry processes represent a small portion of Colombia’s overall emissions, accounting for only 3% of emissions (IDEAM et al., 2018). As part of mitigation action in industry, Colombia emphasises improving overall energy efficiency, as well as specific measures aimed at cutting emissions in particularly heavy-emitting industries, such as cement, brickyards, logistical freight and fertiliser production (Gobierno de Colombia, 2020a).

Even though industry represents a small fraction of Colombian emissions, the sector plays a role in overall decarbonisation in line with 1.5°C compatible benchmarks, such as through decarbonising cement production and electrifying industrial energy systems. Colombia’s current target for cement production is to substitute 15% of the energy consumed by cement plants with co-processing via residues and sub-products, thereby replacing a portion of fossil fuels currently used.

The CAT indicates that to be compatible with the 1.5°C limit, cement production needs to reduce its emissions intensity to zero by 2050, (Climate Action Tracker, 2020). The cement sector in Colombia is still far from this zero-emissions trajectory. No target is yet set for electrifying the Colombian industrial sector.

Buildings

Colombia updated its mitigation strategy in 2020 with the release of the new sectoral mitigation strategy (PIGGCS) from its Ministry of Housing (Ministerio de Vivienda Colombia, 2020). This strategy consolidates the mitigation goals for both the buildings and waste sector into one target, collectively accounting for roughly 4 MtCO2e of mitigation in 2030.

The buildings sector is projected to play a relatively small role in meeting the 2030 mitigation target, accounting for only 0.32 MtCO2e of the mitigation goal in 2030 (Ministerio de Vivienda Colombia, 2020). Most of this projected mitigation potential comes from the implementation of Resolution 0549 on Sustainable Construction, which came into force in 2016 and indicates minimum energy efficiency standards for heating, cooling, and other energy uses to be met by buildings, aiming to reduce the overall energy and water use of new buildings (Gobierno de Colombia- Minvivienda, 2015).

Mitigation potential in the Colombian buildings sector could increase slightly once criteria for sustainable construction and operation throughout the life cycle of buildings are finalised by the Ministry as part of the National Sustainable Buildings Policy (Ministerio de Vivienda Colombia, 2020; National Council of Economic and Social Policy Colombia, 2018). Resolution 0549 calls for proportional reductions of between 20-45% in both energy and water consumption from 2018 onward, depending on the climatic zone in which the building is located.

Colombia’s updated NDC calls for 100% of new buildings constructed to meet these consumption reduction quotas by 2026, continuing through 2030 (Gobierno de Colombia, 2020b). While this is a step in the right direction for the Colombian construction sector, it still falls short of what is needed for a deep decarbonisation of the sector. The CAT indicates that to be compatible with the 1.5°C limit, all new buildings constructed should be Zero Emissions Buildings (ZEBs) by 2025. A full decarbonisation of the power supply is essential to achieve full decarbonisation of the buildings (Climate Action Tracker, 2020).

Agriculture

Agriculture accounts for approximately 30% of Colombian emissions (IDEAM et al., 2018). Agriculture also represents an important source of income for Colombia, as 17% of the labour force is engaged in agriculture either for domestic consumption or export (Portafolio, 2020).

Agriculture accounts for approximately 30% of Colombian emissions (IDEAM et al., 2018). Agriculture also represents an important source of income for Colombia, as 17% of the labour force is engaged in agriculture either for domestic consumption or export (Portafolio, 2020).

Roughly 60% of Colombia’s population suffers from food insecurity and malnutrition, which may be exacerbated by the impact of climate change on the agricultural sector (Gobierno de Colombia, 2020a). While coffee and cocoa are among the most important agricultural export crops, they are projected to suffer under future climate change. Coffee crop areas are already shifting to higher elevation areas due to increased heat and reduced precipitation (Wright, 2021). Beef is also an important agricultural production for the domestic and regional markets.

The main mitigation measures planned for the Colombia agriculture sector include intensifying livestock production to release 69,000 ha of land for restoration and increasing investment for the implementation of agroforestry and silvopastoral systems for cultivating cocoa and coffee that can both increase forest coverage and improve economic returns for farmers (Gobierno de Colombia, 2020a). Further, 150,000 ha of cocoa production and 936,500 ha of coffee should be implemented under agroforestry systems by 2030, in addition to increasing the area of sustainable rice production.

Land use & forestry
Source

Colombia’s emissions from land use and deforestation are more than 36% of the country’s total emissions, and reducing emissions from deforestation is a vital part of Colombia’s climate action. Deforestation represents a major source of emissions for Colombia. The agriculture, forestry and land use (AFOLU) sector combined account for roughly 60% of Colombia’s emissions (IDEAM et al., 2018).

The primary causes of deforestation in Colombia include extensive livestock farming, illegal mining and armed conflict, which has continued in the country due to remaining armed political groups from the country’s civil war (Minambiente & IDEAM, 2018a).

Another activity that drives deforestation is the heavy use of wood as fuel in rural areas. Under its Ministry for Rural Development, Colombia has set a target to install one million efficient wood burning stoves to reduce the use of wood and emissions of particulates, with an estimated mitigation contribution of 2.29 MtCO2e in the land sector to its 2030 mitigation target.

Colombia signed the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forest and Land Use at COP26. Total deforestation in 2021 was 1.5% higher than in 2020 (Ministerio del Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible, 2022), and further measures still need to be implemented more rigorously. Deforestation continues to be a major source of emissions for the country.

Its updated NDC includes a commitment to reduce the rate of deforestation to 50,000 ha/year in 2030 and a complementary target of reducing deforestation of natural forests to 0 ha/year in 2030 using the article 6 mechanism. Additionally, the updated NDC integrates other policy efforts regarding deforestation, such as the strategy for deforestation control and forest management. In Glasgow, Colombia committed to declaring 30% of its territory as protected areas in 2022.

Forestry-based mitigation measures account for about 74% of the proposed measures in the NDC, but is only just over half the reductions needed to meet Colombia’s updated NDC. The updated NDC sets targets for restoring approximately 963,000 hectares of forest area by 2030 (Gobierno de Colombia, 2020b), as well as establishing 370,000 hectares under sustainably managed plantation forests (Minambiente & IDEAM, 2018b)(Vallejo Zamudio, 2019)(Ministerio de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible & IDEAM, 2019).

Waste

Colombia is currently planning a number of measures in the waste sector, including increased capture and use of biogas for energy from waste streams. The efficient use of biogas from waste streams contributes to the increasing use of non-hydro renewables in Colombia and can be a particularly efficient source of renewable energy for Colombia’s dense urban areas. Full implementation of this measures will also contribute to Colombia fulfilling the Global Methane Pledge Colombia made at COP26.

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