NDC update: In December 2020, Costa Rica announced an updated NDC. Our analysis of its new proposed target is here.
Costa Rica’s economy has slowed down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which, in turn, has driven projected greenhouse emissions downwards. The lower range of our current policy projections leads to emissions below the National Decarbonisation plan 2018-2050 estimates, which is very close to our “1.5 Paris Agreement compatible” range. Costa Rica’s NDC is still rated as “2°C compatible” as it has not submitted a formal NDC update.
Costa Rica is the first Latin American country where a COVID-19 case was reported but, due to its swift political response, the government has so far been able to keep transmission rates low. A recession in 2020 is nonetheless inevitable due to the drop in tourism, which resulted in a loss of over 350 million USD in the month of April 2020 alone, and domestic activity. In a recent speech, President Carlos Alvarado recognised the importance of a green recovery, stressing that in these difficult times Costa Rica “raises the voice of solidarity and union to tell the world to invest its resources in the fight against climate change.”
In 2019, Costa Rica outlined its pathway towards net-zero emissions by 2050 in a new plan: the National Decarbonisation Plan 2018-2050. The National Decarbonisation Plan includes strategies for all sectors of the economy, which, if implemented, will lead to further emissions reductions. The strategies include electrifying the public transport system, energy efficiency measures in the industry, transport (incl. freight), and buildings sectors, as well as improved farming practices and measures in the waste and agriculture sectors. Recently implemented and planned policies bring Costa Rica closer to the net-zero goal every day.
The National Decarbonisation Plan is more ambitious than Costa Rica’s Paris Agreement targets for 2030 and 2050. The government plans to present an updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in 2020, which is expected to be informed by the new plan, as well as other climate policy planning documents, including the National Strategic 2050 plan.
If Costa Rica were to update its NDC in line with the National Decarbonisation Plan, it would fall very close to - but still above - our 1.5°C compatible range.
Costa Rica has had ambitious goals on climate for the last ten years, but its policies are now catching up. According to our analysis, under a pathway following the current NDC commitments, Costa Rica would achieve carbon neutrality in 2085. However, if Costa Rica were to implement all the new policies mentioned in its new Decarbonisation Plan, it could achieve carbon neutrality 35 years earlier, i.e. by 2050. See Pledges and targets section for more detail.
Costa Rica is on track to achieving its 2030 NDC emissions reduction target under both current and planned policy scenarios. The current policy projections include new policies that support the electrification of its transport sector, the country’s largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The new National Plan for Electric Transportation, published in early 2019, contains a set of strategic actions and a plan for their implementation, including multiple fiscal, financial, and regulatory policy instruments to support acquisition and use of electricity vehicles. The planned policy projections range is based on different degrees of implementation of the National Decarbonisation Plan.
Costa Rica has launched multiple initiatives to facilitate the implementation of its NDC. Its climate-related policies and programmes include the second phase of its National Programme for Carbon Neutrality—a carbon neutral certification scheme for businesses and municipalities, Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions in the agricultural sector, and the National Energy Plan.
In February 2019, Costa Rica made a bold move to extend its moratorium on oil extraction and exploitation from 2021 until the end of 2050.
Costa Rica’s electricity generation runs on a very high share of renewable sources and aims to reach a full-year 100% renewable electricity generation share by 2021. In 2018, the nation beat its own record by generating 98% of electricity from renewable sources - for the fourth consecutive year, only requiring non-renewable options in moments of high demand.