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

Last update: June 2021

Ambition gap

Costa Ricaʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

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Displayed values
Reference year
−200%−150%−100%−50%0%19902010203020502070
Net zero GHG excl. LULUCF*
2060
Reference year
2015
1.5°C emissions level
−30%
NDC (unconditional)
−14%
Ambition gap
−16%
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Current policy projections
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Historical emissions

*Net zero emissions excl LULUCF is achieved through deployment of BECCS; other novel CDR is not included in these pathways

Summary

Costa Rica’s NDC, updated in 2020, aims for emissions reductions of 10-14% below 2015 levels in 2030, which translates to approximately 12.3-12.9 MtCO₂e/yr excluding LULUCF by 2030.1

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 Rica’s NDC is not conditional on international support, though Costa Rica has also highlighted the ‘need of financial support, technology transfer and capacity’ as an impact of the pandemic.3 Paris Agreement compatible emissions pathways would require a 37% emissions reduction below 2015 levels or 9 MtCO₂e/yr excluding LULUCF by 2030.

Current policy projections show that if the country reaches the maximum potential of its current policies, it would be on track to meet its NDC target for 2030.2

Costa Rica’s current target is to reach net zero GHG emissions by 2050, including LULUCF as a sink.4 While the country’s National Decarbonisation Plan states that the forestry sink accounted for -7.4 MtCO₂e/yr in 2012, Costa Rica’s long term strategy predicts a sink of -5.5 MtCO₂e/yr by 2050.4

1.5°C compatible pathways would require Costa Rica to reach a level of remaining GHG emissions lower than 2 MtCO₂e/yr excluding LULUCF by 2050 (or 88% below 2015 levels). Costa Rica’s projected land sink indicates that the country is well positioned to balance its remaining emissions by 2050.15

Power

Key power sector benchmarks

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

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1.5°C aligned targets
Current targets

Costa Rica has a target to reach 100% of electricity generation from renewable energy by 2030.3,4 As of 2019, Costa Rica already generated 99% of its electricity from renewable sources, with the main source being hydropower at 68%, indicating that it is well on its way to meeting this target.5

This would also imply that fossil fuels would no longer be used in Costa Rica’s power sector by 2030. Currently, imported oil is the only remaining fossil fuel in use for power.5

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

Footnotes