Costa Rica continues to make good progress towards its ambitious climate goals. Its comprehensive climate policy setup is already showing results in areas such as the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) and the enhancement of carbon sinks. The CAT rates Costa Rica’s climate targets and policies as “Almost sufficient”. Costa Rica has not yet submitted an updated NDC after Glasgow. Its NDC target would only need a relatively small improvement to get a “1.5°C compatible” rating.
In 2019, Costa Rica took a bold step to extend its moratorium on oil exploration and exploitation until 2050. In 2021, it took its stance against oil a step forward by proposing the moratorium be enshrined in law to protect it from reversal by future administrations.
However, Costa Rica’s emissions between 2015 and 2021 have been close to the upper end of the government’s expectations for the period. This means the implementation of climate policies has been successful but has not yet reached the 1.5°C compatible trajectory presented in the country’s National Decarbonisation Plan. Costa Rica needs to improve currently adopted policies in key emitting sectors such as transport, agriculture and waste.
Historical emissions in Costa Rica have steadily risen since 1990, and after a dip in 2020, returned to pre-pandemic levels in 2021. In 2021, Costa Rica updated its historical emissions inventory, which now presents revised values for LULUCF emissions until 2017. The new data shows LULUCF emissions drastically declined since 1990, and the sector became a net sink in 2014. Costa Rica needs to continue making efforts to maintain and enhance this carbon sink.
Positive developments since the last CAT update include:
- An advancement in the deployment of key infrastructure to support the growing EV vehicle fleet.
- The advancement of public zero emission vehicle fleets.
- Continuous development of new policies to address emissions in livestock and waste treatment, which together account for most of Costa Rica's methane emissions.
To keep improving its climate policies and targets, Costa Rica could improve its net zero target architecture by following good practice examples such as setting separate targets for emissions reductions and removals and including international aviation and shipping in its planning.
The CAT rates Costa Rica’s climate targets and policies as “Almost sufficient”. The “Almost sufficient” rating indicates that while Costa Rica’s climate policies are consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit, its climate commitments are not, but could be with moderate improvements.
Costa Rica’s 2030 emissions reduction target of “maximum absolute net emissions of 9.11 MtCO2e incl. LULUCF” is rated as “Almost sufficient” when compared to modelled domestic emissions pathways and “1.5°C Paris Agreement compatible” when compared with its fair-share contribution to climate action. Costa Rica’s policies are in line to what is needed to limit warming to 1.5°C, but its target need some improvements. While Costa Rica’s target meets its fair-share contribution to limiting warming to 1.5°C, it needs external support to implement additional policies and to strengthen its reduction target, in order to get national emissions on a pathway compatible with 1.5°C.
We rate Costa Rica’s policies and actions as “1.5°C compatible” when compared to its fair share. The “1.5°C compatible” rating indicates that Costa Rica’s climate policies and action are consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C.
Costa Rica has had ambitious goals on climate for the last ten years, and its policies are now catching up. Four years after the publication of Costa Rica’s National Decarbonisation Plan, most of its proposed policies and actions are on track, and the country is making good progress in key sectors such as transport and agriculture.
In the transport sector, Costa Rica has started implementing its Transport Electrification Strategy, and has seen good growth in EV purchases and supporting infrastructure. In agriculture, Costa Rica has continued implementing policies to reduce emissions from livestock, and to more widely adopt climate smart agriculture practices along key value chains.
If Costa Rica were to implement all the policies mentioned in its National Decarbonisation Plan, it could achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
The full analysis of policies and action can be found here.
We rate Costa Rica’s 2030 NDC target as “Almost sufficient” when compared with modelled domestic emissions pathways. The “Almost sufficient” rating indicates that Costa Rica’s NDC target is not yet consistent with the 1.5°C temperature limit but could be, with moderate improvements.
Costa Rica’s updated climate target represents an improvement compared to its first NDC, however, it is not stringent enough to limit warming to 1.5°C. To improve its rating and be consistent with the 1.5°C temperature limit, Costa Rica could submit a 2030 climate target that is at least 7% lower than its current target (equivalent to an absolute emissions limit of 11 MtCO2e excl. LULUCF in 2030) and, if necessary, outline the international support that it would need to achieve it.
We rate Costa Rica’s 2030 NDC target as “1.5°C compatible” when compared with its fair-share contribution to climate action. The “1.5°C compatible” rating indicates that Costa Rica’s NDC target is consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C when compared to its fair share.
In 2021, Costa Rica submitted an updated National GHG Emissions Inventory to the UNFCCC, for the first time presenting a historical emissions series going back to 1990 and including a recalculation of all historical emissions values using updated tools and methods, including new emission factors for economic activities and improved quality controls. This has led to a substantial upwards revision of Costa Rica’s historical LULUCF emissions, especially for the period 1990-2010.
According to the latest inventory, over the last 20 years, Costa Rica drastically reduced its LULUCF emissions, reaching net negative emissions in 2014. In 2017, Costa Rica’s LULUCF emissions sink was equivalent to more than 20% of its economy-wide emissions. Costa Rica should work toward maintaining this LULUCF sink.
For more information about forestry activities in Costa Rica, please see the Forestry section under Policies & Action.
We evaluate the net zero target as “Acceptable”. Costa Rica’s target covers all sectors and gases and is underpinned by emissions pathway analysis and the communication of strategic goals and emissions targets per sector.
The Costa Rican government provides comprehensive pathways and key measures and sets interim goals attributable to discernible periods. The government plans to reach net zero through domestic actions and without the use of international credits. That said, the Costa Rican government currently fails to provide explicit and transparent assumptions on several key elements. The government also provides no information on its intention to establish a periodic reviewing cycle of measures and interim targets.