POLICY BRIEF: Promoting green growth in Colombia – A post-conflict opportunity?
Only 41 days after the initial peace accord was rejected by a small margin in the plebiscite of 2 October 2016, the Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla group reached a new one. Should the new peace accord succeed, the political stability that is likely to ensue would bring new opportunities for the country.
This policy brief by Clingendael outlines the arising framework of opportunities for Colombia and addresses the hurdles that need to be overcome if it is to unleash its green energy potential. The authors the importance of a post-conflict environment for green growth, especially when it is linked to financial and tax incentives that support renewable energy development and improve local–national and centre–periphery links.
- Links to post conflict. If a new deal succeeds, one concrete recommendation would be for the government to link financial and tax incentives of the 2014 Law 1715 on renewable energy production with post-conflict development programmes. The aim would be to encourage take-up of renewable energy in these areas so as to ensure that communities have access to a stable electricity supply, while offering a new energy model to other areas of Colombia.
- Greening the private sector. Important sections of Colombia’s private sector not only support green growth but have actively pushed to transform their own production processes.13 These examples need to be disseminated and replicated across the entire Colombian business community as operational models that do not harm the revenue-making potential of the companies in question. This is even more important at a time when the government expects the private sector to finance 63 percent of the country´s climate commitments.14 Targeted tax and subsidy arrangements, as recommended by the OECD in its 2014 review of Colombia, could also encourage greater corporate uptake.
- The local vanguard. The most outstanding practical applications of green growth in Colombia take place at local level. As a matter of priority, central state institutions, such as the National Environmental System, should play a stronger role in transmitting local programming to the centre in order to inform and shape future policy. Linking implementation of the peace agreements in the territories with context-specific locally driven green growth strategies would ensure the pairing of territorial peace with environmental peace.
- Other policies could support these positive developments by targeting the politics of the ‘revolving door’ (moving from the private sector to public office). This could prevent further fragmentation of the state around green growth and result in less resistance by the so-called ‘locomotives of growth’ as public and private interests become less blurred in the decision-making process.
- Remaining issues. Two outstanding issues remain to be addressed in terms of strategy, policy and implementation. One is to align green growth strategies and Paris Agreement commitments with the increasing energy demands of the transport sector, amidst a lack of appetite in that sector to address pollution costs and its heavy reliance on fossil fuels. The second is to align energy security expectations with the risks of heavy reliance on hydropower in the face of Colombia’s high vulnerability to climate change.
Picture: Taco Witte