Colombia

Overall rating
Highly insufficient
Policies & action
Insufficient
< 3°C World
Internationally supported target
Highly insufficient
< 4°C World
Fair share target
Insufficient
< 3°C World
Climate finance
Not applicable
Net zero target

year

2050

Comprehensiveness not rated as

Information incomplete
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 204 -211 Mt CO2e, which is far above their fair share contribution of 139 Mt CO2e in 2030 for a 1.5°C consistent pathway.

Colombia may be able to meet its unconditional NDC target (154-188 Mt CO2e excluding LULUCF), if it fully implements additional policies it has planned. Planned policies are estimated to cut emissions to between 187 – 193 Mt CO2e in 2030, which would fall within the upper end of the unconditional NDC target range. However, such an emissions levels is still far from its fair share contribution.

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 Paris Agreement’s 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

According to our assessment, Colombia’s currently implemented policies would reach levels of between 204 - 211 MtCO2e excl. LULUCF by 2030 (39 - 44% above 2010 levels), including any impacts from the pandemic. This is insufficient to reach the target set in its updated 2020 NDC, falling short of the top end of the NDC target emissions range.

Colombia has set an emissions limit in 2030 of 165 MtCO2e including LULUCF. We estimate Colombia’s unconditional NDC target is 154 - 188 MtCO2e, excluding LULUCF, by 2030. Colombia will need to both speed up its implementation of still-pending announced policies, as well implement additional mitigation measures within the decade to meet its NDC target, especially for the lower range of its NDC target.

When planned policies (policies which were announced but not yet implemented) are included, our emission projections show that Colombia could reach emissions levels of 187 - 193 MtCO2e excl. LULUCF by 2030 (28-32% above 2010 levels). Therefore, with full implementation at the maximum mitigation potential of its planned policies, Colombia could meet the upper end its emissions reduction target range in 2030. This, however, heavily relies on the degree to which land-based mitigation measures are used.

The range of emissions indicated here as consistent with Colombia’s 2030 target stems from the heavy emphasis on LULUCF mitigation in Colombia’s updated NDC. Therefore, whether the maximum mitigation potential from planned policies meets the needed mitigation for 2030 depends on the extent to which LULUCF mitigation, such as deforestation reduction measures and land restoration, is relied on.

If permanent measures to foster the structural changes needed to transition to a zero emissions society are included in country’s pandemic recovery package, the Reactivation, Recovery and Sustainable & Inclusive Growth (PRCSI) policy, even greater mitigation than that estimated by planned policy projections could be achieved.

Despite the emphasis on “green” growth in the PRCSI, it includes few projects focusing on heavily reducing fossil fuels. A total of nine wind and five solar projects were given funding from the PRCSI, yet continuing support was also given to the coal sector (Gobierno de Colombia, 2021). In a recent report on the ongoing energy transition in Colombia, co-authored by President Iván Duque, fossil fuels are still given priority in Colombia’s energy supply, and are seen as viable “low emission” sources for everything from electricity and transport to heating and co-generation with geothermal and other energy sources in industry (Duque Márquez & Puyo, 2021).

Colombia’s next presidential elections will take place in May 2022 and it is unclear how Colombia’s stance on decarbonisation of the energy system and broader mitigation policies in other areas of the economy may change should there be a change in government (BBC News, 2021; Política El Tiempo, 2021).

Current policies with particularly high mitigation potential include plans to boost renewable electricity generation from wind and solar through 2030 as well as ongoing policies aimed at boosting electric vehicle use and creating a more resilient agricultural sector. We included in our projections all policies with evidence of implementation listed in the country’s updated NDC or in sectoral mitigation policies (PIGCCS). Our current policy projections also reflect the impacts of COVID-19 on the Colombian economy, as they were incorporated in Colombia’s estimation of business as usual (BAU) emissions from 2015 to 2030. More in-depth information on the policies included can be found in the Assumptions tab.

Under our current policy projections, the energy and agricultural sectors will continue to be the highest-emitting sectors of the Colombian economy through 2030. So far, updated sectoral mitigation plans have not yet been released for these sectors, nor for industry or transport.

In its updated NDC, Colombia noted that the mitigation measures listed were not exhaustive, and that additional measures would be announced in the near future to reach the announced mitigation target (Gobierno de Colombia, 2020c). Based on our analysis, additional mitigation policies will certainly be needed to push current policy projections towards a trajectory consistent with the emissions range of 154-188 MtCO2e excluding LULUCF consistent with their 2030 target.

So far, Colombia has not indicated its intention or a likelihood of meeting any Paris Agreement compatible decarbonisation benchmarks. Notably absent are clear phase-out dates for coal power generation and a lacking phase-out date for fossil fuel vehicles.

Energy supply

The energy sector accounts for 35% of Colombian emissions (IDEAM, PNUD, MADS, DNP, & CANCILLERÍA, 2018). Under its updated NDC, Colombia has set a sectoral mitigation target of 11.2 Mt CO2e for the energy sector (Gobierno de Colombia, 2020c).

Fossil fuels account for 77% of Colombia’s total primary energy supply (TPES), of which 12% is coal (Climate Transparency, 2020). 38% of Colombia’s TPES is provided by oil, and oil rents account for around 4% of Colombian GDP. In 2017, oil and coal exports together accounted for more than 40% of Colombian GDP (World Bank, 2018).

The Colombian coal sector is already facing uncertainty as pressure mounts for firms to decarbonise foreign investments. Glencore, the world’s largest exporter of thermal coal, recently 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). The government has also adopted a regulation to allow pilot projects for exploration and production of unconventional fossil fuel reservoirs using fracking techniques. This adds to the mixed messages sent by the government, and raises concerns about stranded assets.

The power sector in particular plays an important role in decarbonising overall energy supply. To maintain alignment with warming limits set under the Paris Agreement, 98-100% of electricity should be generated from renewable technologies by 2040 or by 2050 at the latest (Climate Action Tracker, 2020a). 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 2019, coal still accounts for roughly 10% of Colombia’s power supply.

Rapid and decisive investment in renewable energy infrastructure and jobs is therefore needed from both a mitigation and economic perspective to facilitate the gradual phasing out of fossil fuels from the energy supply. Colombia already benefits from a large proportion of renewables in the power sector, with large-scale hydropower accounting for 71% of the power supplied (Climate Transparency, 2020). However, given Colombia’s increased vulnerability to the effects of climate change, such as drastic changes in precipitation patterns and increased frequency of water scarcity, the potential capacity of future hydropower for power production is uncertain (Groot, Vega, & Juarez-Lucas, 2020).

Increasing the use of new renewables in the power sector is recognised as a key component of increasing electrification and will be necessary to reduce dependence on both fossil fuels and uncertain hydropower resources. 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). This target is already on track to be surpassed, as in 2019 Colombia’s first renewable energy auction awarded total wind and energy capacity of roughly 2200 MW, with accomplishment of the target still dependent on this capacity being fully installed (Ministerio de Minas y Energía Colombia, 2020).

This increase in renewable electricity capacity contributes significantly to the objective of increasing electricity generation 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 proportion of energy coming from renewable sources for commercial energy distributors (Ministerio de Minas y Energía Colombia, 2020).

The rest of the planned 11.2 Mt CO2e 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, 2020c; 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 Paris Agreement compatible, as global benchmarks indicate that national power sectors would need to be decarbonised by 2040, with a coal phase-out by 2032. 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.

Land use & forestry
Source

Colombia’s emissions from land use and deforestation are more than 20% of the country’s total emissions and reducing emission 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 accounts for roughly 60% of Colombia’s emissions (IDEAM et al., 2018). Land use and land use change (LULUCF) accounts for roughly 30% of total emissions, and emissions from forests specifically accounts for almost 20%. Reducing deforestation and emissions stemming from land can therefore play a large role in helping Colombia meet its mitigation target.

The primary causes of deforestation in Colombia include illegal mining, extensive livestock farming and armed conflict, which has continued in the country due to remaining armed political groups from the country’s civil war (Minambiente & IDEAM, 2018a). In 2020, 171,685 hectares were deforested in Colombia (Minambiente & IDEAM, 2021). In the latest updated construction of Colombia’s National Forest Reference Level in 2019, the estimated average deforestation for the period 2008-2017 was 143,500 ha/year, indicating a recent, slight increase deforestation (Ministerio de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible & IDEAM, 2019).

Forestry-based mitigation measures account for roughly 70% of the mitigation planned in Colombia’s updated NDC. The updated 2020 NDC sets targets for reducing the rate of deforestation to 50,000 hectares/year and restoring approximately 963,000 hectares of forest area by 2030 (Gobierno de Colombia, 2020c), as well as establishing 370.000 hectares under sustainably managed plantation forests.

An additional target is set under Colombia’s National Restoration Plan aims to have planted 180 million trees by 2022. Importantly, with the heavy reliance on forestry-based mitigation measures, the NDC implies or assumes that by 2030 the forestry sector would shift from being a net source to a net sink, which contrasts with current high deforestation rates, weak targets in the near term and little action taken to reduce deforestation.

Colombia had previously set a stronger deforestation target, to reach net zero deforestation by 2030, in its 2017 Integrated Strategy for Control of Deforestation and therefore the current 2030 target of reducing deforestation to 50,000 ha/year stated in the 2020 NDC results in an overall weaker deforestation reduction target (Minambiente & IDEAM, 2018b). In the National Development Plan 2018-2022, Colombia sets an intermediate deforestation reduction target for 2022 to reduce deforestation by 30% compared to the actual scenario (Vallejo Zamudio, 2019). Accordingly, the National Forest Reference Scenario estimates deforestation of roughly 220,000 hectares/year in 2022, which is almost 30% higher than current levels (Ministerio de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible & IDEAM, 2019).

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 Mt CO2e to its 2030 mitigation target.

Collectively, forestry-based mitigation measures account for the bulk of projected mitigation under Colombia’s updated NDC. While these measures for reducing deforestation and improving the carbon sink capacity of Colombian land are promising, the total mitigation impact from forests remains highly uncertain, as the carbon ultimately absorbed by forests depends heavily on the species used and overall health of the ecosystem, with considerable variability in mitigation caused by drought, forest fires and uncertain conditions for future forest growth.

However, preserving forests brings wider benefits outside of solely mitigation, including conserving biodiversity, an important aim for one of the world’s most biodiverse countries (UNEP: WCMC, 2020). Additionally, deforestation continues at very high levels in Colombia despite the stated policies for its reduction and the short-term targets from other documents such as the National Development Plan 2018-2022 are not aligned with the goals proposed in the NDC.

While plans for reducing deforestation in Colombia are important, more concrete and reliable mitigation can be achieved through emission reductions on other high-emitting industries, such as energy and transport.

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).

Additionally, roughly 60% of Colombia’s population suffer from food insecurity and malnutrition, which may be exacerbated by the impact of climate change on the agricultural sector (Gobierno de Colombia, 2020c). While coffee and cocoa are among the most important crops cultivated in Colombia as they are Colombia’s main agricultural exports, 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 market.

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, 2020c). 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.

Mitigation actions in this sector tie in closely with adaptation efforts, as the key agribusiness commodities mentioned above are threatened by climatic variability, yet represent an important source of income for rural communities. The mitigation measure with the largest potential aims to intensify livestock production on silvopastoral systems to incentivise restoration of landscapes and reduce inputs such as feed and fertiliser in livestock systems. Despite being scheduled for 2020, this measure is still in the formulation phase, and is therefore not included in current policy projections for the agricultural sector (MinAgricultura, 2020).

Transport

Despite the transport sector accounting for 12% of Colombia’s total emissions, overall mitigation action in this sector is proportionally insufficient. There is a focus on increasing the sale and use of electric vehicles in the country, yet with no corresponding date to phase out the sale of fossil fuel vehicles. Concerns regarding fossil fuel vehicles abound in Colombia, not only from a climate perspective, but also due to the rampant air pollution present 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 570,000 freight vehicles with cleaner technologies by 2030 (Gobierno de Colombia, 2020c). Law 1964, established 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 (Congreso de Colombia, 2019).

The Colombian Ministry of Transport reported that by the end of 2019, a total of 3,580 EVs were registered in the country (Peñaloza et al., 2019). More recent data from the National Sustainable Mobility Association (ANDEMOS) shows that an additional 1,321 EVs were registered in 2020 and that in the first two months of 2021, 243 EVs were registered. This would bring total EVs nationwide to 5,144 as of the beginning of March 2021. President Ivan Duque indicated in a recent interview with newspaper El Tiempo that he expects a total of 6,600 EVs to be registered in Colombia by 2022. While this is progress, it would represent only 1% of Colombia’s 2030 EV target.

Colombia’s target to reach 600,000 EVs by 2030 is not aligned with the Paris Agreement. The CAT indicates that to be compatible with the Paris Agreement, 100% of global passenger vehicles sales should be zero-emissions by 2035, including battery electric vehicles (BEVs). This means that the last fossil fuel vehicle needs to be sold by 2035 the latest (Climate Action Tracker, 2020b). Despite this strong push in the right direction, it seems unlikely that Colombia will reach this benchmark. Colombia needs to significantly speed up policies and implementation action to meet its 2030 target.

Still, Colombia has emphasised in its transport strategy that natural gas will need to play a major role in its transport infrastructure. With no date set for phasing out fossil fuel cars, it is unlikely that Colombia will reach the global transport sector decarbonisation benchmark, and the transport sector will continue to contribute to both emissions and public health burden in the country.

Industry

Industry represents a small portion of Colombia’s overall emissions, accounting for only 4% 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, 2020c).

Even though industry represents a small fraction of Colombian emissions, the sector plays a role in overall decarbonisation in line with Paris Agreement 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 Paris Agreement, cement production needs to reduce its emissions intensity to zero by 2050, (Climate Action Tracker, 2020b). 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 recently updated its mitigation strategy with the release of the new sectoral mitigation strategy (PIGGCS) from its Ministry of Housing in August 2020 (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 Mt CO2e 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 Mt CO2e 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, 2020c). 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 Paris Agreement, 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, 2020b).

Waste

Mitigation in the waste sector is estimated to contribute 3.4 Mt CO2e in emissions reductions by 2030 (Ministerio de Vivienda Colombia, 2020). Capture and reuse strategies are to play a key role in achieving this mitigation target, including increased capture and use of biogas for energy from waste streams and the treatment of domestic wastewater. 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. However, the waste sector plays a relatively small role in Colombia’s overall emissions, accounting for only 6% of emissions in 2014 (IDEAM et al., 2018).

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