What should Colombia do?

1

Enhance its NDC to be 1.5 degree aligned by COP27:

  • Design and adopt by 2023 a carbon budget that sets a clear pathway for reaching its 2030 and 2050 targets.
  • Implement urgent measures to halt deforestation and adopt ambitious, actionable, targets for decarbonizing energy production and electrifying transport.
  • Define concrete climate adaptation actions for sectors, especially agriculture.
  • Include action-oriented targets on means of implementation
  • Establish plans and targets to diversify the economy away from fossil fuels (both national and subnational) and prevent the energy matrix and fiscal revenue sources from becoming more carbon-intensive. Fracking pilots must be stopped and coal exports phased out.
  • Engage the private and financial sector for climate action, and enhance the quality of emissions accounting and projection methodologies.
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
  • Align the country’s economic recovery plan with the updated NDC.
  • Do not relax existing environmental regulations

What you need to know about Colombia?

  • Colombia’s NDC was updated in December 2021 to establish a 51% reduction of GHG emissions by 2030 with respect to a 2014 baseline. Despite the apparently ambitious target, it is classified by CAT as ‘highly insufficient’ given the low ambition of key sectors excluding LULUCF, particularly energy, and a lack of domestic policies in place to actually deliver on the target.
  • Colombia will hold congressional and presidential elections in March and May 2022, respectively. Potential changes on the country’s trajectory on climate action will depend on the outcomes of both elections, which results are still very much uncertain. The country’s high dependence on fossil fuel exports for fiscal revenue remains a key determining factor for any incoming government.
  • Current policies with particularly high mitigation potential include plans to boost renewable electricity generation from wind and solar by 2030, as well as ongoing policies aimed at boosting electric vehicle use and creating a more resilient agricultural sector. However, gas is increasingly gaining momentum and its use as a ‘transition’ fuel is serving as the basis for locking-in related infrastructure for the long term.

Recent developments, threats and levers for action

Recent developments

  • The LTS, with a 2050 Net Zero target, was submitted on November 2021
  • The Climate Action Law was approved in December 2022. It puts into law the targets contained in the NDC and takes some steps, albeit insufficient, in ensuring their implementation
  • Due to the country’s fiscal dependence on fossil fuels and the strong lobby from these sectors, gas and fracking (pilots) continue to gain momentum
  • The current energy matrix of the country is highly dependent on hydroelectric power. However, in the recovery plan, the government is promoting, in addition to hydro, some clean energy sources such as wind and solar, but also substantial increases in coal-based thermal energy
  • Recent developments in the energy sector include new regulations to reduce emissions in the hydrocarbons industry, including from methane leakage, and the publication of a draft roadmap for offshore wind power development
  • Throughout September-October 2021, Colombia issued its first sovereign green bonds
  • Various key financial regulatory instruments are currently under development, including a Green taxonomy, regulations for sustainability-linked bonds, and guidelines for climate risk management for the financial sector
  • The Escazú agreement is yet to be ratified in Congress. It has faced heavy opposition and the government has not yet provided substantial political backing
  • Deforestation continues to be critical and effective restoration of ecosystems is urgent. Land grabbing, for speculation, agricultural and livestock purposes, illegal mining and drug trafficking are leading drivers. 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 international record with largely progressive positions on climate in multilateral scenarios
  • Relative progress and stability on domestic climate and environmental legislation and institutions

Opportunities

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

Weaknesses

  • The economy is highly dependent on fossil fuel exports (especially coal and oil) for jobs, local development and fiscal revenue
  • The lack of state control and development in key regions, alongside illegal economies and non-state armed groups, drives and makes it harder to tackle threats such as deforestation

Threats

  • Deforestation remains at critical rates and largely untackled, with potentially devastating long-term consequences for key ecosystems
  • Colombia remains the deadliest country in the world for social and environmental defenders, with insufficient effective protection measures
  • Strong lobbying from the oil and gas sector risks undermining current decarbonization targets and measures, and further entrenching carbon-intensive infrastructure

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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