Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Geopolitical Informations

San José
4.872 million (2013)
Total area
51,100 km2

Main legislative bodies

  • Asamblea Legislativa (Unicameral Assembly)

Latest News

Chile is first South American country to tax carbon

On Friday (Sept. 26) Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet enacted new environmental tax legislation that will make the country the first in South American to tax carbon dioxide emissions. Currently, 80% of Chile’s energy comes from fossil fuels. This tax aims to meet Chile’s voluntary target of reducing this fossil fuel dependence by 20% by 2020, read more…

China launches first phase of national ETS

Chinese government on Tuesday (Dec.19) released details about the start of the long-awaited national carbon trading scheme, Reuters reports. Once operational, China’s ETS will read more...

Macron’s climate finance rally to accelerate global response to climate change

On the two-year anniversary of the Paris climate Agreement, the French presidency organized an international summit to increase climate financing to accelerate efforts to read more...

Climate Policy Facts


Year Total GHG Emissions Excluding LUCF ( MtCO2e) Total GHG Emissions Excluding LUCF Per Capita ( tCO2e Per Capita) Total GHG Emissions Excluding LUCF Per GDP ( tCO2e / Million $ GDP)
1990 7 2.19 299
1991 7 2.33 319
1992 9 2.75 353
1993 9 2.83 347
1994 10 3.09 371
1995 11 3.13 371
1996 11 2.99 359
1997 11 2.93 341
1998 11 3.01 332
1999 11 2.96 309
2000 11 2.88 303
2001 12 2.96 314
2002 12 2.95 310
2003 12 2.98 300
2004 13 3.02 297
2005 13 3.11 294
2006 14 3.09 273
2007 15 3.36 279
2008 15 3.39 278
2009 15 3.22 271
2010 15 3.26 266
2011 15 3.13 248

The line chart shows the country’s carbon emissions by year, expressed in million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e) for emission totals, and in tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e) for per capita and per dollar of GDP values. It is based on data from CAIT platform provided by the World Resource Insititute, and updated regularly with the most recent data available.

By selecting or deselecting each item, you can compare or give prominence to particular emission trends.


Energy Source Production (ktoe) TPES (ktoe)
Coal 65,162
Oil 2195,876
Natural gas
Hydro 622,124 622,124
Geothermal 1161,858 1161,858
Solar thermal 0,172 0,172
Solar photovoltaics
Tide, wave, ocean
Wind 45,408 45,408
Biomass 635,232 635,232
Biofuels 0,096 0,096

The double-doughnut chart shows the country’s energy production and TPES (Total Primary Energy Supply), expressed in thousand tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe). It is built on data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development/International Energy Agency libraries, and updated regularly with the most recent data available.

The INNER RING represents the country’s energy production from each energy source, corresponding to the quantities of fuels extracted or produced.

The OUTER RING shows the country’s total primary energy supply of each fuel. It represents the net quantities of fuels made available on the domestic market, after foreign transfers and trading. According to IEA’s definition, TPES equals production plus imports minus exports minus international bunkers plus or minus stock changes.

Differences between production and TPES are significant as they highlight the actual country’s behaviour in the matter of a given energy source. Production values and TPES values of the same energy source may vary widely, especially in case of the much-traded fossil fuels.

Energy data refers to year 2012.

National Policy

Costa Rica is committed to gain a leading role in the world’s economy deep de-carbonization process. As part of the Peace with nature initiative launched in 2006 (DECRETO 33487-MP.pdf in Spanish), the President Oscar Arias announced that Costa Rica will become the first developing country to be carbon neutral by 2021, when the bi-centenary for the independence of the country will be commemorated. The initiative has a twofold objective: on the one hand it aims to set a clear mandate for mitigation and adaptation at the national level; on the other hand, Costa Rica wants to strengthen its role as a leader in tackling the environmental crisis at world level.
The National Climate Change Strategy (2008) is the main policy tool to reach Costa Rica carbon neutrality goal by 2021. From an operational point of view, climate change issues are dealt with by the Climate Change Direction within the Ministry for Environment and Energy (MINAE).


The National Development Plan 2015-2018 (.pdf in Spanish) includes climate change within its sectoral strategic proposals, with the aim of “fostering actions against climate change through public participation, technological change, innovation processes, research and knowledge, so to ensure the wellbeing, human security and competitiveness of the country”.

A specific proposal for a Framework Law on Climate Change (.pdf in Spanish) was presented in August 2013, but it is still stalling ahead the final vote.

The current climate change policy is based on the National Climate Change Strategy (2008), designed as the primary instrument for achieving the country’s commitment towards carbon neutrality by 2021.
The Strategy covers six strategic working axes: i) mitigation; ii) adaptation; iii) measurement, reporting and verification; iv) capacity development and technological transfer; v) public sensitization, education and cultural change; vi) financing.
As for mitigation, the Strategy provides for three strategic sub-axes:

  • reduction of emissions by sources. Special attention is to be drawn on the following sectors: energy, transportation, agriculture and livestock, industry, solid waste, tourism, water, land use change;
  • capture and storage of CO2, especially through reforestation and avoided deforestation;
  • development of an effective national carbon market and active participation in international mechanisms. This objective will be achieved through the financial consolidation of the Payment for Ecosystem Services programme, the strengthening of voluntary carbon markets and of the participation in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

In the case of adaptation, the Strategy prioritise the following sectors: water, energy, agriculture and livestock, fishery and coastal zones, infrastructure, biodiversity.
The operationalization of the Strategy is mandated to the Action Plan for the Climate Change strategy (.pdf in Spanish), developed in 2013 and adopted in 2015 . The Plan is meant as a tool for catalysing public and private resources so to support the low carbon development of the country and foster its resilience to CC. The Plan identifies specific actions in key sectors: i) energy, transportation and agriculture in the case of mitigation and ii) water resources and agriculture in the case of adaptation.

Finally, in the context of the carbon neutrality goal, Costa Rica launched in 2012 the “Carbon Neutrality Country Programme” (.pdf in Spanish), as governmental initiative for officialising the processes related to the GHG inventories and recognising the efforts voluntary undertaken by various organizations in reducing emissions. Based on the standard “Management system to demonstrate carbon neutrality (INTE 12-01-06 :2011)”, organisations may be awarded the C-Neutral Certification subject to an emissions assessment based on agreed standards and an evaluation of the reduction activities. The program offers the opportunity to compensate emissions through investment in environmental services programs such as the National Forestry Finance Fund (FONAFIFO).


Costa Rica’s path towards a low carbon development is drawn by the National Energy Plan 2015-2030 (.pdf in Spanish). The Plan defines energy efficiency and distributed generation as priorities for action and also calls for the renovation of the vehicle fleet to include low carbon technologies, the promotion of sustainable public transports and the mainstreaming of clean fuels, with particular emphasis on biofuels.
In the short term, the National Development Plan 2015 -2018 also calls for enhancing the use of renewable sources and improving efficiency in the use of energy, especially in the public sector.


Costa Rica still lacks a dedicated National Adaptation Plan, but has pledges (as part of its INDC) to develop it by 2018. It will comprise at least ten plans for sectors and territories identified as priorities, including biodiversity, agriculture, water, coastline, fishery, health, infrastructure, energy, tourism and cities.
Adaptation is mentioned as a urgent need within the National Development Plan 2015-2018, placing special emphasis in building the resilience of the society, infrastructure, critical productive sectors (agriculture and livestock, water resources and coastal zones) and in promoting ecosystem based adaptation so to consolidate ecological corridors. As already mentioned, the Action Plan for the Climate Change strategy, provided by the National Strategy, pinpoints water resources and agriculture as priority sectors for intervention and defines specific actions. In the water sector the Plan aims at:

  • Building the resilience of those ecosystems that protect superficial and groundwater sources;
  • Developing Water Security Plans for the fresh and waste water operators;
  • Consolidating early warning systems in the water sector.

As for agriculture, main objectives include:

  • Fostering technologies which are tolerant to climate change impacts such as drought, heatwaves, heavy precipitations and pests;
  • Incrementing the social, economic, human, physical and natural capital at the disposal of particularly vulnerable groups within the rural population.

In coordination with the National Climate Change Strategy, the National Plan for Risk Management 2010-2015 (.pdf in Spanish) provided for by the National Law for emergency response and risk prevention (2006, .pdf in Spanish), defines guidelines and intervention to reduce vulnerability placing climate change adaptation as a cross-cutting issue.


Once one of the most deforested countries in the world, Costa Rica has managed to considerably revert the trend in the past 30 years shifting form 26% forest coverage to a 54.4% by 2013. This was achieved through several dedicated polices, among which are the establishment in 1998 of the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) and the Payment for Environmental Services Program. Managed accordingly to Forestry Law (1995), the Programme provides payments to owners of forests and forest plantations for the services provided by conserving or appropriately managing the forest. Disbursements are made through the National Forestry Finance Fund (FONAFIFO).

Main sources

Global climate legislation study 2015
DCC –Dirección de Cambio Climatico
Costa Rica – Gobierno de la Republica
Government of Costa Rica – Ministry of Environment and Energy: Costa Rica’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution

International Policy

General features

Party to the UNFCCC (non-Annex I)

  • Date of signature: 13 June 1992;
  • Date of ratification:24 August 1994;
  • Date of entry into force: 24 November 1994.

Kyoto Protocol

  • Date of signature: 27 April 1998;
  • Date of ratification: 9 August 2002
  • Date of entry into force: 16 February 2005

Amendment to Annex B of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Date of acceptance: –

Negotiating position

Costa Rica is a member of G77, CELAC , and AILAC. The cornerstones of its negotiating position can be inferred especially from the latter negotiating group, which was founded in 2012 by the same Costa Rica together with Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Panama, Paraguay and Peru. As a specific feature, Costa Rica has placed deforestation-related issues, and especially REDD+, at the heart of its negotiating agenda, being also a member of the Coalition of Rainforest Nations.

Costa Rica released its INDC on 30 September 2015, committing to an emissions reduction of GHG of 44% compared to a Business As Usual (BAU) scenario and a reduction of 25% of emissions compared to 2012. The AFOLU sector (agriculture, forestry, other land use) is included in the national goal. The country also included an adaptation component in its INDC, with commitments for 2030. Costa Rica is currently designing a road map for its National Adaptation Plan, pledging to finalise it by 2018.

Main sources

Alejandra Granados Solís, A. and Madrigal Ramírez, R. (2014), Posiciones del Estado de Costa Rica ante las Conferencias de las Partes de la Convención Marco de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Cambio Climático (COPs), FES COSTA RICA- NO 1/2014.
Government of Costa Rica – Ministry of Environment and Energy: Costa Rica’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution