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What is Costa Ricaʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

Last update: June 2021

Costa Ricaʼs total GHG emissions by sector

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

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Energy
2266440000
Agriculture
3355777777
Other
1122111111
Industry (processes)
199020102030205020700000111111

While power generated within the country is already fully based on renewables, to meet energy demand, the country still uses a small amount of imported oil.6 While Costa Rica has already achieved, 100% renewable power generation periodically in the past, data from 2019 shows it fell short, reaching 99% of power generated renewably. The country has set a target to reach 100% renewable power generation by 2030, with little specification regarding the sources of renewable power.

Concrete targets for diversified sources of renewable power can ensure that Costa Rica can consistently meet 100% renewable power and stay on track with 1.5°C pathways. Currently, the largest source of renewable power generation in Costa Rica is hydropower.5 In order to strengthen energy security, sources of power generation may need a more even distribution among hydropower, biomass, solar, wind or green hydrogen to even out high and low periods and protect against future climate variability.

Towards a fully decarbonised power sector

Costa Rica is already incredibly close to achieving full decarbonisation of power generation from renewable sources, such as hydropower, solar and wind. It produced 99% of its power supply from renewables in 2019 and already reached 100% renewable power generation periodically in past years, such as in 2017. This indicates that the country will have no difficulty in reaching its existing target to reach 100% renewable power production by 2030.

As Costa Rica benefits already from an almost completely decarbonised power supply, this is the opportunity for the country to drive decarbonisation in its transport sector through increasing the uptake of electric vehicles in the country’s fleet.

1 Climate Action Tracker. Climate Target Update Tracker: Costa Rica. (2020).

2 Climate Action Tracker. Costa Rica: Current Policy Projections. (2020).

3 Gobierno de Costa Rica. Contribución Nacionalmente Determinada. (2020).

4 Government of Costa Rica. National Decarbonization Plan. (2019).

5 International Energy Agency. IEA Country Profiles: Costa Rica. (2021).

6 Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía. Second Biennial Update Report. (Costa Rica, 2019).

7 Ministerio de Salud Costa Rica. Plan Nacional para la Gestión Integral de Residuos 2016-2021. (2016).

8 Ministerio de Ambient y Energia Costa Rica. Reforma Declara Moratoria Nacional para explotación petrolera. Sistema Costarricense de Información Jurídica (2019).

9 Salgado, L., Dumas, M., Feoli, M. & Cedeño, M. Mercado doméstico voluntario de carbono de Costa Rica: Un instrumento haciala C-Neutralidad. (2013).

10 Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía – Gobierno de Costa Rica. Plan Nacional de Energía 2015-2030. Plan Nacional De Plan Nacional De Observación (2015).

11 Gobierno de Costa Rica. Segundo Informe Biennial De Actualización: Costa Rica. (2016). doi:10.1787/eco_outlook-v2016-2-graph80-fr

12 Gobierno de Costa Rica, MINAE & MOPT. Plan Nacional de Transporte Eléctrico 2018-2030. (2019).

13 Gobierno de Costa Rica. Ley 9518: Incentivos y promoción para el transport eléctrico. Sistema Costarricense de Información Jurídica (2017).

14 Ministerio de Ambiente y Energia Costa Rica. Estrategia para la ganadería baja en carbono en Costa Rica. 110 (2015).

15 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.

16 Least-cost pathways analysed here assumes already a certain amount of carbon dioxide removal technologies, in this case bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

Costa Ricaʼs power mix

terawatt-hour per year

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Scaling
SSP1 Low CDR reliance
201920302040205050100
100%RE
201920302040205050100
SSP1 High CDR reliance
201920302040205050100
Low Energy Demand
201920302040205050100
High Energy Demand - Low CDR reliance
201920302040205050100
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS
  • Unabated fossil
  • Renewables incl. Biomass
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS

Costa Ricaʼs power sector emissions and carbon intensity

MtCO₂/yr

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Unit
−0.4−0.200.20.40.60.819902010203020502070
  • Low Energy Demand
  • Historical emissions
  • High Energy Demand - Low CDR reliance
  • 100%RE
  • SSP1 High CDR reliance
  • SSP1 Low CDR reliance

1.5°C compatible power sector benchmarks

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Carbon intensity, renewable generation share, and fossil fuel generation share from illustrative 1.5°C pathways for Costa Rica

Indicator
2019
2030
2040
2050
Decarbonised power sector by
Carbon intensity of power
gCO₂/kWh
10
−10 to 0
0
0
Relative to reference year in %
−240 to −100%
−167 to −125%
−172 to −145%
Indicator
2019
2030
2040
2050
Year of phase-out
Share of unabated coal
Percent
0
0
0
0
Share of unabated gas
Percent
0
0
0
0
Share of renewable energy
Percent
99
100
100
100
Share of unabated fossil fuel
Percent
1
0
0
0

BECCS are the only Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) technologies considered in these benchmarks

All values are rounded

Footnotes