Climate change » Costa Rica's Climate Change Strategy

Costa Rica has set itself the target of becoming carbon neutral by 2021 and has various policies and strategies to support this aim:

The National Climate Change Strategy

The 2007 National Climate Change Strategy (Estrategia Nacional de Cambio Climático, ENCC) is the basis for Costa Rica´s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2021. Its launch was supported by the creation of a Climate Change Department (DCC) at the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) in charge of implementing and following up on international commitments and implementation of policies with regards to climate change. The ENCC is the strategic framework for climate change policies, and entails two core areas, mitigation and adaptation, as well as four transversal issues: measurement; capability development and technological transfer; public awareness, education and cultural exchange; and financing. As for mitigation, various initiatives have been developed which aim to 1) reduce the sources of greenhouse gases emissions, 2) capture CO2 through forestation and 3) develop an effective carbon trading market. The priority sectors for intervention are: Energy, Transport, Agriculture, Industry, Solid waste, Tourism, Water and Land-use change.

Country Programme on Carbon Neutrality

Costa Rica’s Public Private Collaboration ‘Programa País’ is a voluntary programme through which organizations may be awarded a C-Neutral Certification after submitting to an emissions assessment based on agreed standards and a reduction activities evaluation. It was established in 2012 by the MINAE to develop capacities in national organisations and strengthen the quality of greenhouse gas inventories. It is based on the national norm INTE 12-01- 06:2011 which in turn is based on the international ISO 14065 and ISO 14064. In order to acquire the C-Neutrality label, businesses need to follow specific guidelines – such as determining their carbon footprint, developing a plan to reduce greenhouse gases, and offsetting their remaining emissions. 22 companies have so far been awarded the C-Neutral label since 2012, and their scope ranges from the automotive companies, coffee producers, travel agencies to medical companies and banks. The program offers the opportunity to compensate emissions, which could not be reduced due to financial balance or technology barriers, by offsetting them through investment in environmental services programs such as National Forestry Finance Fund (FONAFIFO). New options for compensation should be also made available through the Domestic Carbon Market of Costa Rica, which is in a pre-operation stage, by designing regulations, procedures and protocols.


Logo Carbono Neutral Costa Rica
The Carbon Neutrality Certificate is awarded by the Costa Rican government to businesses that reach carbon neutrality.


The National Development Plan 2015-2018

Climate Change is fully integrated in Costa Rica’s National Development Plan (PND) and mentioned 53 times in the document. The Plan proposes as a strategic objective the promotion of actions against global climate change, through citizen participation, technology changes, innovation, research, and knowledge to guarantee security, human safety and the country’s competitiveness. For such purpose, there are two results relevant to climate change policies:

  1. Reduce climate change’s impact and variability, increasing the adaptive capacity and disaster risk management, providing better resilience to vulnerable sectors.
  2. Support the key sector emission reduction activities (transport, energy, agriculture, solid waste) to drive the low-emission development transformation process to achieve the county’s Carbon-neutral goal within National Contribution framework under the Climate Change Convention Framework of the United Nations.

State Policy for the agricultural sector and the rural development of Costa Rica 2010-2021

The Costa Rican Agricultural sector is the second highest sector in compound emissions due to its Nitrous Oxide and Methane production. The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) has defined a “State Policy for the agricultural sector and the rural development of Costa Rica 2010-2021”, which integrates climate change and agri-environmental management. The policy is structured in four integrated and inter-related pillars:

i. competitiveness;

ii. innovation and development;

iii. management of rural territories and family agriculture;

iv. climate change and environmental management.

Within the fourth pillar, climate change and agricultural management, there are four strategic areas defined as follows: variability and climate change, agro-biodiversity, clean production and sustainable management of lands and other natural resources. An Action Plan for Climate Change and Environmental Management was developed by the MAG to operate the sector policy. Its component “Mitigation of the Effects of Climate Change” proposes to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases to a level that ensures that the agricultural sector contribution to achieving the carbon neutrality objective.

Environmental Services Payment System (PES)

The PES (Pago por Servicios Ambientales (PSA) in Spanish) programme in Costa Rica is a national payment programme for carbon storage, hydrological services, and the protection of biodiversity and landscapes. This scheme has been credited with reducing the rate of deforestation in Costa Rica from one of the world’s highest to net negative deforestation by the start of the 2000s.

Since its inception, PES has sought to sell carbon emission reduction credits. Costa Rica’s Fondo Nacional de Financiamiento Forestal (FONAFIFO) developed the Certifiable Tradable Offset (CTO) equal to an externally certified one ton net reduction in carbon emissions.

Other relevant measures undertaken by Costa Rica include: the establishment of the Domestic Carbon Market, NAMAs in the all sectors, the National REDD + Strategy and National Energy Plan.

The following graphic shows the framework for Costa Rica’s policies, plans, strategies and programs which are important for the low carbon development part.

National Development Plan graphic

Costa Rica’s INDC

On September 30, 2015 Costa Rica submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) which defines its commitment to climate action from now and until the year 2030. The goal is to avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate system and keeping the average temperature increase leveled at 2°C and considers reducing this limit to 1.5°C. According to its INDC, Costa Rica is committed to a maximum of 9,374,000 tCO2 eq net emissions by 2030, with proposed emissions per capita of 1.73 net tons by 2030, 1.19 net tons per capita by 2050 and -0.27 net tons per capita by 2100. This numbers are consistent with the necessary global path to comply with the 2°C goal. Costa Rica’s commitment includes an emissions reduction of GHG of 44%, of a Business As Usual (BAU) scenario, and a reduction of 25% of emission compared to 2012 emissions. To accomplish this goal Costa Rica would have to reduce 170,500 tons of GHG per year until the year 2030. Costa Rica is looking into becoming a laboratory for the world’s economy deep de-carbonization process, working with civil society, the private sector, academia, and the international community in order to accomplish it.

Definition carbon neutrality

Definition carbon neutrality