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About Climate Change in Costa Rica

What is Costa Rica doing to mitigate climate change?

Costa Rica has set itself the target of becoming carbon neutral by 2021 and has various policies and strategies to support this aim, such as the National Climate Change Strategy, the C-Neutral Program, the National Development Plan, the INDC and several sector strategies. Furthermore, Costa Rica’s pioneering Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) system, which rewards the planting of trees on private land, will be scaled up in the coffee sector.

What is the ENCC?

The Costa Rican government has defined a national strategy to tackle climate change (ENCC for its Spanish initials: Estrategia Nacional de Cambio Climático) to respond to the global problem of climate change with a strong participation of different actors and sectors and to reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2021. For more information click here.

What is the “Programa País”?

The Public Private Collaboration “Programa País” is a voluntary program for companies which seek to report their greenhouse gas inventory or obtain the C-Neutrality label. In order to acquire the label, businesses need to follow specific guidelines. For more information click here.

Where can I find more information about Costa Rica´s efforts in tackling climate change?

The NAMA Café website offers general information on the National Climate Change Strategy and Programa País, as well as detailed information on the implementation of the NAMA Café de Costa Rica and its support projects NSP NAMA Café and BID-FOMIN. More information on Costa Rica´s Climate Change Policies can be found on the websites of the Climate Change Directorate or the Ministry for Environment and Energy.

About the NAMA Café de Costa Rica

What is a NAMA?

NAMA stands for Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA). It is any form of mitigation action that is embedded in national sustainable development priorities and is designed to fit the national context, characteristics and capabilities of a country. For further information please click here.

What is the NAMA Café de Costa Rica?

Costa Rica established the objective of carbon neutrality in 2021. The NAMA Café aims to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from the coffee sector and to improve the use of resources at the level of coffee plantations and coffee mills. For further information please click here.

What are the expected impacts of the NAMA Café de Costa Rica?

The overarching goal of the NAMA Café de Costa Rica is to produce and process coffee in Costa Rica in a low-emission, sustainable fashion. At conclusion of the initiative, coffee growers and mill operators will possess the agronomic and technological knowledge to initiate change toward low-carbon coffee production. Additionally, they will have access to attractive financing options for long-term eco-efficient investments, and will be connected to international buyers interested in sustainable, high-quality products. For more information click here.

Why a NAMA in the coffee sector?

The government identified the coffee sector as its first priority, as the sector is responsible for 25 per cent of Costa Rica’s agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and nine per cent of its overall GHG emissions owing to the wide-spread use of nitrogen-based fertilizers and resource-intensive processing methods.

How will the NAMA Café help coffee farmers, processers and mills?

The NAMA Café will include the entire value chain, from farmers to exporters, in a range of activities. It will integrate ongoing governmental initiatives that strengthen the coffee sector. Another important government-driven program included in the NAMA Café is the renovation of the coffee plants, which decline in productivity after 20 years. Coffee plant renovation helps to increase productivity, lower the emission intensity, and at the same time helps adapt to climate change through the introduction of new varieties. For more information click here.

Which ministries and institutions are involved in the NAMA Café de Costa Rica?

The responsible ministries are the Ministry for Environment and Energy (MINAE) and Ministry for Agriculture and Livestock (MAG). Implementing partners are the National Coffee Institute (ICAFE) and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI). The NAMA Café receives technical support from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and Fundecooperación para el Desarrollo Sostenible. Further support is offered by the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the National University (UNA). For more information click here.

About the NAMA Support Project "Low-Carbon Coffee Costa Rica"

What is a NAMA Support Project?

NAMAs can receive technical and financial assistance through NAMA Support Projects (NSPs) which are funded by the NAMA Facility. NSPs are country-driven projects that are embedded in national development strategies and plans. They are integrated into sector-wide programs or policies that have a specific reference to a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and serve to combine these policies with financial mechanisms. All NSPs must:

  1. have direct and indirect greenhouse gas mitigation potential;
  2. be embedded in national policies, strategies and targets;
  3. contribute to transformational change in the targeted sector(s);
  4. contribute to sustainable development co-benefits;
  5. be feasible;
  6. contribute to mobilizing public and private funding

What is the NAMA Facility?

The NAMA Facility is a joint program of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Danish Ministry of Energy, Utilities and Climate (EFKM) and the European Commission. The programme funds NSPs to implement ambitious, transformational and country-led elements of NAMAs. It encourages innovative approaches for fostering climate-friendly investment and helps developing countries move towards low-carbon development. For more information click here.

What is the NAMA Support Project “Low-Carbon Coffee Costa Rica” (NSP)?

The NSP "Low-Carbon Coffee Costa Rica" is a project within the NAMA Facility that aims for a climate-friendly transformation of the entire value chain of the Costa Rican coffee industry. It supports the NAMA Café de Costa Rica with financial and technical assistance. It is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. For more information click here.

What are the expected impacts of the NSP “Low-Carbon Coffee Costa Rica”?

Up to 6,000 Costa Rican coffee farmers and 50 processing plants have the knowledge and technical skills to introduce climate-smart cultivation and processing methods in their operations. Sustainability labels identify Costa Rican coffee as an environmentally and climate friendly alternative; the reduction in emissions thus leads to higher prices and increased demand for the end product.

What is the difference between the NAMA Café de Costa Rica and the NAMA Support Project “Low-carbon Coffee Costa Rica”?

The NAMA Café is a Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action that Costa Rica is implementing over the duration of 10 years. The NAMA Support Project “Low-Carbon Coffee Costa Rica” is a project that supports the implementation of the NAMA Café by offering financial and technical assistance until 2019. It aims to catalyze transformational change in Costa Rica towards a low-carbon development path. 

Where can I get involved?

Climate change affects us all. And we all like to drink good coffee. So what happens when climate change directly affects the quality of something that we enjoy so much every single day? We are working on it – and so can you!

Follow the NAMA Café on Facebook and receive updates on new developments and important milestones in the Costa Rican coffee sector. Get to know the work we do with local coffee farmers during workshops as well as “in the field”. And please, give us your opinion on what to do to help the coffee sector adapt to climate change. Additionally, follow the Ministry for Environment and Energy´s Climate Change Directorate to get to know more about everything going on in Costa Rica to help adapt to climate change and reach carbon neutrality. 

About climate-friendly coffee in Costa Rica

What is the relationship between coffee and Costa Rica?

Costa Rica was the first Central American country to establish a coffee industry in its lands. In relation to the country’s history coffee is a crop of great importance to Costa Rica, since it transformed its economic, social and geographical realities.

Who are the main sectors that partake in Costa Rica’s coffee industry?

The coffee industry in Costa Rica is composed of 4 actors:  producers, coffee processers, millers and traders. For more information on each of these sectors click here.

How many production zones are there in Costa Rica?

There are 8 production zones in the country: Valle Central, Tres Ríos, Turrialba, Brunca, Guanacaste, Tarrazú, Orosí and Valle Occidental. For more information click here.

How is coffee production organized in Costa Rica?

Coffee production in Costa Rica is mainly composed of many small farmers, meaning people that produce less than 13,800 kg of coffee beans during a harvest season. Together this group represented 67.5% of the national production in the 2014-2015 harvest. According to ICAFE figures, in 2014 there were 52,000 farmers on 93,774 ha, 210 coffee mills, 58 exporters and 67 roasters in Costa Rica.

What is the impact on emissions of coffee production in Costa Rica?

Coffee production contributes 9% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and 25% of the agricultural emissions. The estimated carbon footprint along the coffee supply chain (total = 1.93kgCO2/kg green coffee):

Kg CO2/kg green coffee

How can the emissions generated during coffee production be reduced?

There are different ways to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions:

  1. Reductions in nitrous oxide emissions by adopting efficient practices of fertilizer and lime application.
  2. Reductions in methane emissions by improved water management in anaerobic treatment systems and by introducing technologies for wastewater treatment.
  3. Reductions in methane and carbon dioxide emissions through aerobic treatment and energetic use of pulp.
  4. Reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by improved combustion systems in the ovens and boilers and increased use of solar drying.
  5. Increased fixation of carbon dioxide by the spread of coffee agroforestry systems (intensified shading).

The reduction potential in growing and milling is of approx. 30,000 t CO2/year, meanwhile the carbon sink potential is of approximately 90,000 t CO2/year, resulting in a total mitigation potential of 120,000 t CO2/year. The expected aggregate GHG emission reductions over 20 years will be 1,850,000 t CO2e in conservative estimates. The NSP could directly or indirectly influence about 250,000 t CO2 of this mitigation potential. The quantification of GHG mitigation potential will become available through the application of the MRV system. For more information about emissions during coffee production and processing click here.

What kind of energy does the coffee processing need?

Electricity is used in the depulping, washing, hulling and classification stages. For the drying phase electricity, combustion or solar energy may also be used. 

What climate-friendly options are there to substitute traditional energy sources?

During the processing of coffee, by-products such as the coffee pulp and coffee hulls accumulate. This biomass can be pressed into pellets and used to power cauldrons and ovens. 

What is the difference between low carbon and carbon neutral coffee?

Carbon neutrality, or having a net zero carbon footprint, refers to achieving net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset, or buying enough carbon credits to make up the difference.