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What is Colombiaʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

Ambition gap

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Colombiaʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

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Displayed values
Reference year
−200 %−150 %−100 %−50 %0 %200020202040206012345
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Current policy projections
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Historical emissions
Legend
  1. 1
    1.5°C emissions level
    −43 %
  2. 2
    NDC (unconditional)
    −2 %
  3. 3
    Ambition gap
    −42 %
  4. 4
    Net zero GHG excl. LULUCF*
    2060
  5. 5
    Reference year
    2015
Key messages

Last updated: September 2021

In its updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) from December 2020, Colombia pledges unconditionally to reach an emissions level of 167 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030 or 51% emissions reduction in 2030 compared to their BAU scenario, including LULUCF. However, this target heavily relies on mitigation action in the LULUCF sector, such as land restoration and reducing deforestation. When excluding LULUCF, the NDC translates to emissions of 156-188 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030, equivalent to a range of emissions of 2% below to 18% above 2015 levels.

1 Statista Research Department. Distribution of exports in Colombia in 2019, by sectors. Statista (2021).

2 Gobierno de Colombia- IDEAM. Segundo Reporte Bienal de Actualización- Informed de Inventario Nacional de GEI de Colombia. 180 (2019).

3 Editor. Colombian coal exports. The Coal Hub (2021).

4 U.S. Energy Information Administration. Colombia. U.S. Energy Information Administration (2019).

5 Gobierno de Colombia. Contribución Prevista Determinada a Nivel Nacional de la República de Colombia. (2020).

6 International Energy Agency (IEA). Colombia Country Profile: Total energy supply (TES) by source, 1990-2018. (2018)..

7 IRENA. Scaling Up Renewable Energy Investment in Colombia. (2020).

8 Groot, K. de, Vega, C. B.- & Juarez-Lucas, A. Turning the Tide: Improving Water Security for Recovery and Sustainable Growth in Colombia. World Bank 36 (2020).

9 Climate Action Tracker. Climate Target Update Tracker: Colombia. Climate Action Tracker (2021).

10 Ministerio de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible Colombia. ‘Colombia Carbono Neutral’, una estrategia para combatir el cambio climático. Noticias: Ministerio de Ambiente y Desarollo (Colombia) (2021).

11 MinEnergía Colombia. Antes de 2050 el sector eléctrico colombiano será carbono neutral. (2020).

12 MinMinas & Gobierno de Colombia. Plan Integral de Gestión del Cambio Climático / Sector Minero Energético. (2018).

13 Gobierno de Colombia- MinAmbiente. Estrategia Nacional de Movilidad Eléctrica. (2019).

14 Ministerio de Vivienda Colombia. Resolución 0549 del 10 Julio de 2015. 1–10 (2015).

15 Ministerio de Vivienda Colombia. PLAN INTEGRAL DE GESTIÓN DEL CAMBIO CLIMÁTICO SECTORIAL: Sectora de Vivienda, Ciudad y Territorio. (2020).

16 Climate Transparency. CLIMATE TRANSPARENCY REPORT: COLOMBIA’S CLIMATE ACTION AND RESPONSES TO THE COVID-19 CRISIS. (2020).

17 NDC Partnership. Colombia and Panama Eye Carbon Neutrality by 2050.

18 Sánchez Molina, P. Colombia ratifica su intención de alcanzar 1.500 MW renovables instalados en 2022. PV Magazine Latin America (2019)..

19 Volcovici, V. Latin America pledges 70% renewable energy, surpassing EU: Colombia minister. Reuters (2019).

20 While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available; thus, we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches.

21 The re-expressed emissions excluding LULUCF below selected baseline used the 2015 emissions from PRIMAP (161 MtCO₂e), also shown in the figures, for its calculation. When possible, the needed emissions reduction be updated to be re-expressed relative to the latest historical year for the country. A range was used in the calculation of the unconditional NDC excluding LULUCF to reflect different possibilities depending on the extent to which LULUCF is used in mitigation actions.

22 In some of the analysed pathways, the energy sector assumes already a certain amount of carbon dioxide removal technologies, in this case bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

Colombia’s NDC is not compatible with a 1.5°C domestic emissions pathway. At minimum, Colombia would need to achieve a 32% reduction below 2015 levels excluding LULUCF by 2030 to be aligned with a 1.5°C pathway, equivalent to absolute emissions levels of 108 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030. To achieve this Colombia would require significant international support.

Colombia’s NDC is not conditional on international support. However, Colombia’s fair share contribution – the emission reductions it needs to achieve without international support- lies above its domestic emissions pathway, indicating that it requires international support to close the gap between its fair share level and its 1.5°C domestic emissions pathway.

While Colombia has announced its intent to reach “carbon neutrality” by 2050, it has not officially submitted a strategy for this goal to the UNFCCC and does not explicitly specify whether this goal refers to net zero GHG emissions or rather net zero CO₂ emissions by 2050.

To be 1.5°C compatible, CO₂ emissions (excl. LULUCF) would need to be reduced to zero between 2040 and 2050, while GHG emissions would need to be reduced by around 89% below 2015 levels by around 2050.20

On the road to net zero, the country would need to balance its remaining emissions in hard to abate sectors with the use of carbon dioxide removal approaches such as sinks from the land sector. While Colombia benefits from a high potential from forestry-based sinks, its LULUCF emissions are not net negative, and accounted for around 28% of total GHG in 2014.2 The country will need to implement stringent policies in order to reduce its land emissions to become net negative and reach net zero.

To date, Colombia has not indicated intent to upscale the use of negative emissions technologies, and has instead relied mainly on carbon removals through LULUCF measures in its mitigation pledges.

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Key messages

The biggest gap in Colombia’s climate policy is the lack of a phase-out date for coal or natural gas. Coal currently plays a minor role in Colombia’s power sector (4% in 2017), although its share has been increasing in the past years. Colombia’s economy is heavily reliant on fossil fuel exports – coal and oil currently account for roughly 47% of Colombian exports and profits from their sale make up roughly 4% of Colombian gross domestic product (GDP).1

To align with a path to limit warming to 1.5°C, coal would need to be immediately phased out from the power sector. The 1.6 GW of capacity currently planned would therefore need to be scrapped. Gas, which accounted for 14% of power capacity in 2017, would need to be phased out between 2027 and 2032. Depending upon the context, Columbia may require international support to achieve these phase out schedules.

Colombia has made good progress implementing renewables in the power sector. Over 70% of Colombian power supply comes from hydropower. However, there are no further targets for rapidly upscaling renewables beyond 2022. The government has set a target for only a 9% increase in the share of non-hydro renewables by 2022. In contrast, our models indicate that at least 95% of power would need to be generated by renewables in 2030 to be in line with a 1.5°C pathway.

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Key power sector benchmarks

Renewables shares and year of zero emissions power Including the use of BECCS

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Current targets
Required targets
2025
  1. 2025-2034 Zero emissions power
2030
  1. 2030 98 to 100% Renewable share

Footnotes