Costa Rica

Critically Insufficient4°C+
World
NDCs with this rating fall well outside of a country’s “fair share” range and are not at all consistent with holding warming to below 2°C let alone with the Paris Agreement’s stronger 1.5°C limit. If all government NDCs were in this range, warming would exceed 4°C. For sectors, the rating indicates that the target is consistent with warming of greater than 4°C if all other sectors were to follow the same approach.
Highly insufficient< 4°C
World
NDCs with this rating fall outside of a country’s “fair share” range and are not at all consistent with holding warming to below 2°C let alone with the Paris Agreement’s stronger 1.5°C limit. If all government NDCs were in this range, warming would reach between 3°C and 4°C. For sectors, the rating indicates that the target is consistent with warming between 3°C and 4°C if all other sectors were to follow the same approach.
Insufficient< 3°C
World
NDCs with this rating are in the least stringent part of a country’s “fair share” range and not consistent with holding warming below 2°C let alone with the Paris Agreement’s stronger 1.5°C limit. If all government NDCs were in this range, warming would reach over 2°C and up to 3°C. For sectors, the rating indicates that the target is consistent with warming over 2°C and up to 3°C if all other sectors were to follow the same approach.
2°C Compatible< 2°C
World
NDCs with this rating are consistent with the 2009 Copenhagen 2°C goal and therefore fall within a country’s “fair share” range, but are not fully consistent with the Paris Agreement long term temperature goal. If all government NDCs were in this range, warming could be held below, but not well below, 2°C and still be too high to be consistent with the Paris Agreement 1.5°C limit. For sectors, the rating indicates that the target is consistent with holding warming below, but not well below, 2°C if all other sectors were to follow the same approach.
1.5°C Paris Agreement Compatible< 1.5°C
World
This rating indicates that a government’s NDCs in the most stringent part of its “fair share” range: it is consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit. For sectors, the rating indicates that the target is consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit.
Role model<< 1.5°C
World
This rating indicates that a government’s NDC is more ambitious than what is considered a “fair” contribution: it is more than consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit. No “role model” rating has been developed for the sectors.

Summary table

Paris Agreement targets

Costa Rica’s NDC includes a target of 9.4 MtCO2e emissions in 2030 and an indicative emissions level of 10.9 MtCO2e emissions by 2021 (including LULUCF with global warming potentials, GWPs, from the IPCC’s Second Assessment Report, SAR). Costa Rica also expresses its 2030 NDC target as a “25% reduction from 2012 levels.” The CAT estimates the targets to be 13.9 MtCO2e excluding LULUCF for the 2021 projections and between 13.7 MtCO2e and 15.0 MtCO2e excluding LULUCF for 2030 in GWPs from the IPCC’s fourth assessment report (see “Assumptions” section for details). For 2030, this is equivalent to an increase between 111% and 130% above 1990 levels excluding LULUCF. Costa Rica additionally set a per capita emissions target of 1.7 tCO2e in 2030.

Costa Rica is on track to overachieve its 2030 NDC based on the lower end of its planned policies scenario, and its 2030 and 2050 targets based on its National Decarbonisation Plan 2018-2050 pathway. If one were to recalculate its 2030 NDC based on the lower end of planned policies, the emissions level would be reduced from 13.7-15.0 MtCO2e excl. LULUCF to 11.8 MtCO2e/yr excl. LULUCF. If we were to translate this emissions level to the language of Costa Rica’s NDC the unconditional target would be:

  • An absolute emissions level of 6.1 MtCO2e incl. LULUCF by 2030 using SAR GWPs, or
  • A 47% emissions reduction by 2030 below 2012 emissions, or
  • An emissions intensity level per capita of 1.2 tCO2e/cap by 2030.

If Costa Rica were to go further, and update its NDC based on its National Decarbonisation Plan 2018-2050, the emissions reductions under its 2030 target would be even deeper: from 13.7-15.0 MtCO2e excl. LULUCF to 5.6 MtCO2e/yr excl. LULUCF. If we were to translate this emissions level to the language of Costa Rica’s NDC this would result in:

  • An absolute emissions level of 5.6 MtCO2e incl. LULUCF by 2030 and between 0.1-3.6 MtCO2e incl. LULUCF by 20501 using SAR GWPs, or
  • A 52% reduction by 2030 below 2012 emissions.

Considering emissions intensity per capita, these emissions level translates to 1.09 tCO2e/cap in 2030 and between 0.02-0.62 tCO2e/cap in 2050 (of emissions excl. LULUCF and in GWPs from SAR). Therefore, in updating its NDC Costa Rica will need to go beyond this level in order to demonstrate true progression in scaling up climate action.

1 | For the NDC’s 2050 targets we have assumed a range for LULUCF emissions given the absence of national projections. We assume the lower end of LULUCF emissions from 2012—the last historical available year from the BUR—and the higher end as LULUCF emissions from 2030—the last available year from the BUR. We assume these two different ends of the range as the is uncertainty about LULUCF emissions. There are efforts—including a REDD+ strategy—to reduce emissions in the LULUCF sector. Nevertheless, a national study (Sancho, Rivera and Obando, 2015), which estimates emissions from LULUCF sector by examining the forest compositions and historical trends, projects that the LULUCF sink will start to shrink after 2029 and emissions from this sector will become positive in 2050.

2020 pledge

In 2011, Costa Rica communicated the implementation of a “long-term economy-wide transformational effort to enable carbon-neutrality”, that is, to have zero net emissions including LULUCF (UNFCCC, 2011). In its previous assessments, the CAT interpreted this target to mean carbon neutrality by 2021, based on the National Climate Change Strategy (ENCC) from 2008 (Ministerio de Ambiente Energia y Telecommunicaciones, 2009).

In its 2015 NDC (Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía, 2015b), Costa Rica gave a completely different interpretation of its carbon neutrality goal, namely being carbon neutral by 2085, starting in 2021. Indeed, according to the NDC, the definition of carbon neutrality by 2021 was changed to “(achieve) total net emissions comparable to total emissions in 2005”. The reasons for the change in the interpretation of the pledge, which in practical terms means a delay in climate action of 64 years, are unclear. Compared to the pledge, however, the NDC is more precise. The NDC provides exact net emission projections for 2021 (13.9 MtCO2e in GWPs from AR4).

In 2019, Costa Rica again announced its goal to be carbon neutral—this time by 2050 (Gobierno de Costa Rica, 2019b). It is unclear whether this carbon neutrality goal supersedes Costa Rica’s NDC targets, which are less ambitious. Costa Rica plans to submit an updated NDC in 2020. As stated on their National Decarbonisation Plan, this and other planning documents will inform the NDC update process (ibid).

Long-term goal

In February 2019 Costa Rica presented its National Decarbonisation Plan 2018-2050 (Gobierno de Costa Rica, 2019b). In this document Costa Rica sets a national target of net-zero emissions in 2050—emissions including LULUCF—and describes a roadmap towards achieving this target. According to the sectoral breakdown provided in the plan, emissions in 2050 will be 5.5 MtCO2e excluding LULUCF. This plan’s pathway towards decarbonisation has been modelled as a linear decrease between 2020 and 2050. For 2030, the decarbonisation pathway is between 2.5 MtCO2e and 3.7 MtCO2e under Costa Rica’s NDC target.

There is no clarity on whether the National Decarbonisation Plan replaces Costa Rica’s NDC 2030 and long-term target as it has not yet submitted an NDC to the UNFCCC, but this is expected in 2020. This decarbonisation pathway is more ambitious than Costa Rica’s 2050 NDC target. The NDC long-term target aims at keeping emissions below 7.2 MtCO2e by 2050 including LULUCF with GWPs from AR4 (Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía, 2015b). In its NDC, Costa Rica additionally sets per capita emissions targets of 1.2 tCO2e in 2050, and - 0.3 tCO2e in 2100 (both of which with SAR GWPs). For the 2050 NDC target, we have estimated a range for the 2050 target based on our assumptions of LULUCF projections given that Costa Rica only provided LULUCF projections until 2030 (see “Assumptions” section for details). We do not include the 2100 target in our analysis.

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