What should Colombia do?

1

Enhance its NDC to be 1.5 degree aligned by COP26:

  • Design and adopt by 2023 a carbon budget that sets a clear pathway for reaching its 2030 and 2050 targets
  • Ban fracking
  • Adopt concrete and urgent measures to halt deforestation
  • Adopt ambitious transport targets to seize the opportunity in the electrification of public and private transport as well as initiate a transition for the electrification of heavy duty transport
  • Establish plans and targets to diversify the economy away from fossil fuels and prevent the energy matrix from becoming more carbon intensive: fracking pilots must be stopped and coal exports phased out
  • Decarbonize fiscal revenue sources for regional economies
  • Include action-oriented targets on means of implementation
2

Build a just and resilient recovery plan:

  • Increase the carbon tax price and coverage, and make progress towards the design and implementation of the ETS
  • Engage the private and financial sector for climate action
  • Use royalties from extractive industries for a just transition
  • Do not relax existing environmental regulations
  • Avoid locking-in carbon intensive energy generation infrastructure

What you need to know about Colombia?

  • Low inclusion of climate change considerations in Projects of National and Strategic Interest (PINES) limit coordination with the private sector and undermine compliance with climate objectives and NDC
  • Instead of enabling a consistent development of renewables in the country, the government is currently planning fracking pilots and further expansion of fossil fuels both for energy generation and exports. At the same time, Colombia champions the ERLAC initiative and this needs to translate into greater ambition in the energy sector as well as planned transitions away from FS
  • The deforestation rate between January and March 2020 was 83% higher than in the same period of time last year, 2019
  • Although the royalties are aimed to promote local development from revenues of the extractive sectors, this mechanism has not been adapted to promote economic diversification and a just transition
  • There is high mitigation potential from increased efficiency in heavy mobility and EV incentives (Ferry project for the Magdalena river, trains systems)
  • The Recovery Plan is open for consultation until early November but lacks specific measures, even if environmental priorities are mentioned. Budget for the environment sector (i.e. Ministry, public research institutions) is one of the lowest and many projects depend on international cooperation

Recent developments, threats and levers for action

Recent developments

  • Due to the country’s fiscal dependence on fossil fuels and the strong energy sector lobby, fracking is gaining momentum, reducing the scope of the carbon tax scheme, dilating clean energy research and investment
  • The current energy matrix of the country is highly dependant on hydroelectric power. However, in the recovery plan, the government is promoting, in addition to hydro, some clean energy sources as wind and solar, but also substantial increases of coal-based thermal energy
  • The Financial Regulator published the guide for issuers to promote green bonds, making Colombia the first country in the region to have a specific regulatory framework for green bonds. It has been well received
  • Carbon tax needs to be strengthened and particularly include coal. The National ETS is currently being designed
  • Blue and black carbon are under analysis but no policies have been adopted. Duque prioritized biodiversity loss and the protection of oceans and paramo ecosystem at UNGA and this should be implemented
  • The Escazú agreement is waiting ratification in Congress but has faced heavy opposition and the government is not committed enough
  • Deforestation is critical and radical restoration of ecosystems urgent. Land speculation and grabbing for agricultural and livestock purposes, illegal mining and illicit crop production are leading drivers. The country has an extensive and inefficient agribusiness sector where livestock use of land remains as a cover-up for tenure insecurity. The government keeps promoting the Leticia Pact as the regional initiative to decrease the deforestation in the Amazon biome but the plan is yet to yield concrete results

Strengths

  • Strong record as an international climate leader, usually defending progressive positions in multilateral processes
  • Progress on domestic climate and environmental institutions
  • The National Emission Reduction Registry (RENARE) was released on September 2020 strengthening the transparency of emission reduction system (including mitigation, adaptation and support)

Opportunities

  • Electrification of transport has high potential for emissions reductions, resilience building and increased air quality in urban centres
  • Local potential for non-conventional clean energy generation must be explored

Weaknesses

  • Economy highly dependant on fossil fuel exports (especially coal and oil), with intense lobby and government entanglement for increased extranction and expansion of the sector
  • Post conflict and illegal economies increase lack of state control and difficulty for addressing threats such as deforestation
  • Deforestation at critical rates and insufficient governance to address it

Threats

  • Increasing deforestation largely untackled; large legal and illegal land-grabbing to fuel cattle ranching economy, illegal mining, logging and crops in complex post-conflict destabilized areas
  • Potential downgrading of NDC as baselines are revised; or no ambition enhancement at all

About Climate Diplomacy Snapshots

The data is clear. Accelerated and enhanced action is needed now to build resilience and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. As they seek to address the ongoing health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19, governments should seize opportunities to invest in a recovery that will build social, economic and climate resilience on the long-term.The Climate Diplomacy Snapshots aim to provide the climate community with a clear overview of what each country should do, on climate and recovery, to pursue these joint objectives and keep the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C. Each has been prepared with the help of national experts, and will be regularly updated. The snapshots aim to support climate advocacy in the lead up to COP26.

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