WRI’s Tracking and Strengthening Climate Action (TASCA) project provides governments with the tools and resources they need to track the implementation and effects of their climate policies and commitments under the Paris Agreement. Participating countries include Colombia, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, and South Africa.
Sandra Bravo Cordoba (SBC) is the point person for TASCA’s work on tracking and strengthening climate action in Colombia. She recently shared her insights with WRI Senior Associate Neelam Singh (NS), who helps manage activities in Colombia and India under TASCA.
NS: Can you give us an update on how Colombia’s Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system is developing?
SBC: Colombia continues to make strides in measuring and reporting its emissions at the national and regional, as well as corporate, levels. In 2017, the country published the National Document of Monitoring, Reporting and Verification System for Colombia which introduces the objectives and guiding principles of its MRV system, distinct types of MRV and the flow of information related to each type of MRV.
The latest national inventory submitted in 2016 included several methodological improvements and defined the structure and institutional arrangements needed to build a new platform for gathering information—the National System of GHG Inventories (SINGEI). Subnational inventories, harmonization between inventories and mitigation actions and GHG accounting rules are also being developed to provide greater granularity, support decision making and facilitate design of climate change plans for cities and regions.
At the same time, there is an emphasis on building capacity among corporate entities to voluntarily measure and report their emissions. The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development has commissioned a design document for a potential voluntary reporting program, and a data portal was developed for emissions reporting from industry, although it is not yet operational. Actions related to adaptation are also part of the design elements for the MRV system in Colombia due to the importance and relevance of this aspect to the country.
NS: How is Colombia improving MRV of emission reductions?
SBC: In 2015, Colombia mandated the creation of the National Registry of Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (RENARE - Registro Nacional de Reducción de Emisiones), which also includes the National Registry of Programs and Projects for the Reduction of Emissions due to Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). It further established that any entity opting for Payment by Results or similar compensation for emissions reductions or GHG removals achieved must first register their mitigation initiative, and refrain from reselling the rights to the emissions reductions generated by the mitigation initiative. To implement the mandate, the Government published a draft resolution for inclusion of mitigation and REDD+ projects in the registry in April 2018. The draft guidelines, which are being revised after a public comment period, include guidance on methodologies for estimating emissions reductions, avoiding double counting, verifying and registering emission reductions and qualifying criteria for payment for results or similar compensation, among others. Colombia is promoting the use of units of GHG reductions or removals as part of the voluntary mechanism in lieu of the national carbon tax.
The registry platform is under development. Once completed it will allow various kinds of emission reduction initiatives, such as CDM, NAMA, REDD+ and other mitigation projects, to be registered. The information gathered through RENARE will also feed into the country’s progress report for NDC implementation.
NS: How is Colombia improving the country’s ability to access and track climate finance?
SBC: Colombia has developed a publicly accessible online platform to track climate finance to understand how much funding goes towards mitigation and adaptation projects. The platform has registered over 16,500 climate actions representing $7.8 billion from domestic and international public sources during 2011-2015. Launched in November 2017, the information portal has aggregated data and project-level information for public (domestic and international) and private finance, presented in a user-friendly format with graphs, maps, and tables. Users can see climate finance by sector, state, municipality, financial source, financial instrument and other indicators. To support decision-makers at the national and regional levels and to ensure consistency in identification of finance sources, climate finance is classified and measured as per the methodological guidelines developed by the Department of National Planning and other partners. The Government has also established the Financial Management Committee to promote coordination and dialogue on finance and climate change. Among other tasks, the Committee will produce policy guidelines to scale climate finance and facilitate monitoring and systematic reporting of financial flows related to climate change.
The tool helps improve the effectiveness of climate financing by enhancing the understanding of finance flows among government users and other stakeholders and by increasing transparency and accountability of how resources are invested. The information can be used to better manage climate finance and identify investment gaps while helping Colombia report on climate finance under the UNFCCC.
NS: What are the main priorities for MRV going forward?
SBC: Colombia has been actively working to embed climate change action in national policymaking. In 2016, the country formalized the National System of Climate Change (SISCLIMA) as the main institutional arrangement to coordinate and oversee climate change planning and implementation across multiple levels of government. Colombia’s National Climate Change Policy was approved in 2017 and provides guidelines for climate planning and management from the local to national level. It aligns several key existing plans and strategies, such as the Low Carbon Development Strategy, REDD+ Strategy and the National Adaptation Plan. Climate change is also being integrated in subnational and sectoral planning; for example, territories are beginning to develop Territorial Climate Change Action Plans. In 2016, the Government established a national carbon tax on fossil fuel producers and importers. This was followed by provisions to allow verified, domestic carbon credits to offset the carbon tax and reduce tax liability. In 2017, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development also submitted a climate change bill to Congress to set up a legal framework consolidating actions at national, sub-national and sectoral level, emphasizing the importance of MRV, and of information, science and technology.
The emphasis moving forward will continue to be on strengthening these institutional and strategic arrangements and supporting the comprehensive MRV system that the country is developing for emissions, emission reductions and climate finance. This is the election year in the country and we hope that the new administration will continue to prioritize climate change. The MRV system is an essential tool for decision making, providing information that is useful for identifying national priorities and facilitating the planning of climate change policies and programs.