Data and Insights: Colombia

VCS Quarterly Update

ISSUE #3 - Q4/2020
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This issue of our Data and Insights brief covers the last quarter of 2020, a year that brought a number of challenges — but also opportunities — to the carbon markets. Travel restrictions due to COVID-19 slowed down the validation and verification of VCS projects in Colombia and subsequently resulted in a decrease in Verified Carbon Units (VCUs) issuances and retirements from these projects, though signals of recovery are strong.

Guidance Document: Using Verified Carbon Units (VCUs) in the Context of the Colombian Carbon Tax

Main Takeaways

Solidification of existing trends: Domestic carbon tax is the primary driver of market activity; AFOLU projects dominate

Looking back on all of 2020, we saw a couple of early trends solidifying in Q4. 1) The domestic carbon tax is the primary driver of carbon market activity in Colombia: of the over 20,000,000 VCUs retired so far, more than 18,000,000 were retired for compliance purposes. 2) AFOLU projects continue to comprise more than half of all carbon projects in Colombia and are continually issuing about 98% of VCUs. REDD+ projects continue to constitute the vast majority (96.3%) of AFOLU projects.

While the pandemic undeniably restricted activity in the Colombian carbon markets, there are also clear signals that these markets are rebounding:
  • COVID-19-related travel restrictions slow the increase in registered projects

The number of registered projects increased only slightly between Q3 and Q4/2020 (from 36 to 38), likely due to travel restrictions resulting from the pandemic.  

  • VCU issuances lower than expected, but rebounding in Q4 with AFOLU projects performing strongly 

The number of cumulative expected issuances from projects in Colombia has been slightly lower (22,317,176) than projected (32,016,851), and 2020 issuances have almost dropped to 2017 level, likely due to the above-mentioned delay in validation and verification of projects. However, Q4/2020 (746,715 VCUs) saw a fairly strong rebound in issuances from Q3 (435,555 VCUs). Issuances from AFOLU projects more than doubled in the same timeframe (from 305,115 VCUs in Q3 to 616,723 VCUs in Q4).

VCS Data and Insights: Colombia - Q4/2020
This chart includes cumulative data about VCS projects in Colombia.
Project Total
Under Development 11
Under Validation 5
Registration Requested 4
Registered 38
Transferred* 1
*Projects whose credits were transferred from another GHG program
Project Types
Project Total
Energy 22
Manufacturing 2
Waste 2
*Agriculture, Forestry, and Land Use
AFOLU Project Types
Afforestation, Restoration, Reforestation
Blue Carbon
Project Total
Afforestation, Restoration, Reforestation 8
REDD+ 23
Blue Carbon 2
32,016,851 Expected Annual Reductions from All Projects in Colombia
Summary Totals to Date
VCU Issuances* (Total to Date)

*One VCU represents one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent that was removed from the atmosphere or not emitted.

Greenhouse gas equivalencies for emission reductions and removals were calculated using the EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator

VCUs Globally
cars taken off the road
for a year
22,317,176 VCUs from Projects in Colombia
Hover with your cursor over the bar to see what these emission reductions are equivalent to
VCU Issuances by Year
*The Colombian carbon tax was implemented at the end of 2016.
**as of 31 December, 2020
VCU Issuances by Project Type
Project Type VCUs
AFOLU* 21,840,280
Energy 457,174
Waste 19,722
*Agriculture, Forestry, and Land Use
VCU Issuances by AFOLU* Project Type
Project Type VCUs Percentage of Total
REDD 21,022,291 96.3%
ARR 817,989 3.7%

ALM – Agricultural Land Management
ARR – Afforestation, Reforestation and Revegation
IFM – Improved Forest Management
REDD – Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation
WRC – Wetland Restoration and Conservation

*AFOLU – Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use
VCUs that have been purchased and taken off the market forever; a retired VCU represents a carbon offset.
20,370,214 VCUs
cars taken off the road
for a year
1,961,385 VCUs Retired for Voluntary Purposes
18,408,829 VCUs Retired for Compliance Purposes