Pledges And Targets
*Based on CAT calculations
Paris Agreement targets
NDC update: In December 2020, Costa Rica announced an updated NDC. Our analysis of its new proposed target is here.
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 13.5 MtCO2e excluding LULUCF for the 2021 projections and between 11.5 MtCO2e and 12.6 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 74% and 94% 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 achieve its NDC based on its National Decarbonisation Plan 2018-2050. If one were to recalculate its 2030 NDC based on the lower end of planned policies or the National Decarbonisation Plan, the emissions level would be reduced from 11.5-12.6 MtCO2e excl. LULUCF to 11.2 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 7.9 MtCO2e incl. LULUCF by 2030 using SAR GWPs, or
- A 32% emissions reduction by 2030 below 2012 emissions, or
- An emissions intensity level per capita of 1.6 tCO2e/cap by 2030.
Therefore, Costa Rica’s next NDC needs to meet or, ideally go beyond this level to demonstrate true progression in scaling up climate action ambition.
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 (13.5 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 (Gobierno de Costa Rica, 2019b).
In 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. The pathway towards decarbonisation has been modelled as a linear decrease between 2020 and 2050. For 2030, the decarbonisation pathway is between 0.3 MtCO2e and 1.4 MtCO2e below Costa Rica’s NDC target.
There is no clarity on whether the National Decarbonisation Plan replaces Costa Rica’s 2030 and long-term NDC targets as it has not yet submitted an updated NDC to the UNFCCC, but this is expected in 2020. This decarbonisation pathway is more ambitious than Costa Rica’s NDC targets. 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.