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FEATURE: Opportunities for NDC implementation in Colombia’s new National Development Plan

Colombia has not only set emissions reductions targets for 2030. It has also set an intermediate carbon budget for the National Development Plan period to 2022, which aims to ensure the country is on a pathway to achieve its 2030 goals, says Estefania Ardila Robles, a Country Engagement Specialist at the NDC Partnership Support Unit.

The international context

Four years ago, Colombia made a climate change pledge – its Nationally Determined Contribution – against which the country will report its progress under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement. The Colombian NDC includes:

  • a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 20% below the business-as-usual emissions scenario by 2030 (30% below BAU if the country receives adequate international support);
  • a set of climate change adaptation milestones covering ecosystems, land use planning and vulnerable populations; and
  • proposed means of implementation such as research and innovation programmes and financial mechanisms.

With less than 11 years to meet these goals, Colombia, like the other 182 nations that established an NDC, faces three main challenges. First, it must ensure that effective policies are in place to enable effective implementation of mitigation and adaptation actions. Second, it must secure the finance to deploy such actions at a scale up to the magnitude of the challenge. Third, it must be able to transparently demonstrate both domestically and internationally how these efforts are leading to meeting the NDC targets.

Short-term steps toward medium-term goals

With technical support provided by the NDC Partnership, a global alliance of more than 130 countries, international institutions, and non-governmental members, Colombia developed a package of measures, actions, and intermediate targets, which was included in its recently approved 2019 – 2022 National Development Plan. If fully implemented by the end of that period, Colombia should be on track to meeting its 2030 mitigation and adaptation goals.

You may be asking yourself, how was the NDC broken down to ensure that what is done in the next 3.5 years is connected to a 2030 climate change outcome?

A carbon budget to drive down emissions

For the first time in a National Development Plan, Colombia included an intermediate emissions reduction target, according to which reduced greenhouse gas emissions should add up to 36 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq) by 2022. This target can be seen as a carbon budget which the country can “spend” in different ways by allocating emission rights and commitments among those sectors most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. The target is an important signal for private stakeholders and potential investors, giving them the incentive to find mitigation opportunities. National Development Plan targets are subject to domestic monitoring and annual reporting: the Government of Colombia will necessarily follow an emission monitoring and reporting system based on the rules of the Paris Agreement (which were agreed at COP24 as part of the Katowice Climate Package).

All emitting sectors are covered by at least one strategic target that is directly related to the larger emissions reduction goal. In the energy sector, the participation of non-conventional renewables in the energy matrix is set to increase from 22.4 megawatts (MW) to 1,500 MW, and the energy intensity of production will decrease by about 7% as a result of energy efficiency initiatives. In the transport sector, a combined approach of alternatives to road transport, improved logistics and a less polluting vehicle fleet – Colombia should have 600,000 electric vehicles on its roads by 2030 – has been proposed. About 1,000 companies in the country’s main industrial corridors should be under cleaner production programmes and, through a circular economy strategy, the national recycling rate should rise from 8.7% to 12% by 2022.

Between 2016 and 2017, Colombia’s deforestation saw a 23% increase compared to the previous year. These trends and the government assessments of its drivers indicate that addressing emissions from agriculture, forestry, and other land use (AFOLU) will not be an easy task. AFOLU represents 55% of Colombia’s greenhouse gas emissions and is key to promoting long-lasting peace and wellbeing in the country. Action in this sector is therefore critical to both implementing the NDC and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The government has chosen to focus its efforts on three goals in the AFOLU sector: i) halting the accelerated growth of deforestation by 2022; ii) a commitment to enhance greenhouse gas removal by expanding agroforestry, sustainable management of natural forests, silvopastoral systems, and other forms of productive land restoration by over 700,000 hectares and iii) implementing best practices in Colombia’s agricultural lands by applying less fertilizer.

Implementing all these actions and targets together is expected to result in measurable improvements in air and water quality, in the growth of green business based on the sustainable use of biodiversity, and in reducing plastic and other reusable waste in the ocean and terrestrial ecosystems.

Broader scope for adaptation actions

The approach to fostering climate change adaptation is to ensure that existing climate change plans and strategies receive funding and kick-start implementation. One of the main proposals to catalyse enhanced action is to broaden the scope of the national Adaptation Fund. Also, the national government aims to strengthen, through more efficient policies and regulatory measures, different economic sectors and local governments’ notion of shared responsibility in addressing climate vulnerability and climate risks to ecosystems and populations.

International partnership to accelerate action

As shown above, Colombia is deploying both policy tools and domestic financial resources to implement its NDC. But additional support is still required to implement it in full. By working with the NDC Partnership, the government has formulated a clear statement of these additional needs and engaged with governmental and intergovernmental partners to meet them. If successful, this experience could inspire others in the region and around the world to do more and do it faster.

 

 
Image: coffee growing, Colombia, courtesy UN Women.

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