Costa Rica strengthens its commitment to the Paris Agreement

In February 2018 Costa Rica’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and Ministry of Environment and Energy signed an agreement to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the agricultural and livestock sector. Agreements for the energy and transport sectors are currently being drawn up.

In 2012 Costa Rica announced its goal to be the first carbon-neutral country in the world. Since then, the country has worked hard to become an exemplar of decarbonisation and to comply with its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) agreed under the Paris Agreement.

An important step forward was taken in February 2018, when Costa Rica’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and Ministry of Environment and Energy signed a joint agreement in the context of the country’s National Development Plan 2015–2018. In light of the fact that the agriculture and livestock sector generates 27% of Costa Rica’s net emissions, the joint agreement promotes the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in this sector and supports a shift towards climate-resilient farming.

Including the entire sector in a participatory process

Instead of focusing solely on mandating a specific reduction in GHG emissions, the ministries seized on the opportunity presented by the agreement to include small-, medium- or large-scale farmers operating in the banana, coffee, livestock, rice and sugar cane subsectors and to jointly reflect on the conditions needed for a low-carbon and resilient transformation. The participatory process also included private companies, which are key players when it comes to GHG mitigation, as well as government officials, non-governmental organisations and academia.

Developing future scenarios for policy planning

Stakeholders developed several socio-economic and climate scenarios, taking into consideration potential changes in consumer demand at the national and international levels, farmers’ adoption of technology, and the capacity of the state to support farmers during the transformation process.

Based on four different scenarios (ranging from worst to best case, and business as usual), the stakeholders then developed a long-term vision (up to 2030) and recommendations for realising the transformation into a resilient, low-carbon sector. This approach was developed by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security and the University of Oxford and is being implemented in Latin America by the University for International Cooperation.

Strengthening Costa Rica’s commitment to the Paris Agreement

The joint agreement, which will be revised after five years, reaffirms the country’s commitment to low-carbon development, as it promotes research and innovation in GHG measurement and technology development and acquisition and it opens up access to international markets. In addition, the joint agreement serves as a framework for the implementation of mitigation actions such as the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs). At present, two NAMAs are being carried out in the livestock and coffee sub-sectors. Further agreements are currently being developed for the transport (44% of net GHG emissions) and energy (39% of net GHG emissions) sectors, which are the biggest obstacles on the road to decarbonisation. Also, a massive decarbonisation plan that includes the solid waste, agriculture and transport sectors will be launched on 1 December 2018.