Rain and cars in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Rain and cars in San Jose, Costa Rica. Photo: Jarib Gonzalez / Getty Images


  • Decarbonizing can reduce and avoid short-lived climate pollutant (SLCP) emissions.
  • Black carbon and methane (two SLCPs) cause global warming and poor air quality.
  • Some policy instruments can reduce SLCPs in multiple sectors, causing synergy.
  • Improved urban planning can favor the mitigation in transport and waste sectors.
  • Institutional strength and favorable financing are needed to advance mitigation.

Decarbonization is a process that transforms economies to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per unit of economic output, aiming towards net-zero GHG emissions. This process could also reduce short-lived climate pollutant (SLCP) emissions, including black carbon and methane. They have relatively short atmospheric lifetimes but have large radiative forcing and impact human health. Therefore, reducing SLCPs can improve air pollution and help mitigate climate change.

This paper estimates the SLCP emission reductions from Costa Rica’s decarbonization plan. Through a value chain analysis and the identification of implementation barriers, the paper also evaluates which policy instruments can advance SLCP mitigation in multiple sectors, creating implementation synergy.

We find that mitigation measures, by 2050, in the transport, agricultural, solid waste, and industrial sectors avoid 25.2 kt (metric kiloton) of black carbon emissions (23 times the 2018 emissions) and 2167 kt of methane (15 times the 2018 emissions). However, the country faces financial and governance challenges in each sector that will need overcoming to implement the intended mitigation measures.

We identify a comprehensive environmental tax reform, the overhauling of urban regulatory plans, the strengthening of institutional capabilities, and low-carbon investment with favorable financing as crucial cross-sectoral policy synergies that will advance the implementation of SLCP mitigation.