A Bold Call to Action: The Dominican Republic’s Climate-Compatible Development Plan

This blog post was originally published at Worldwatch Institute.

On January 14th, at the National Palace in Santo Domingo, the National Council for Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism of the Dominican Republic (CNCCMDL) released its long-awaited Climate-Compatible Development Plan (CCDP). The plan outlines policies the Dominican Republic can enact to achieve great economic growth as well as substantive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2030. The project was started after the 16th Conference of the Parties (COP 16) in Cancun, Mexico in 2010 and has moved forward with support from the International Climate Initiative (ICI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), the Coalition for Rainforest Nations (CfRN) and the McKinsey Company.

The development plan is an important document that allows the government to set the tone regarding the future of sustainability in the Dominican Republic. The CCDP details the emissions reductions that can be made in four areas of the economy by pursuing low-emissions strategies rather than a business as usual (BAU) scenario through 2030. Its long time horizon and its intent to achieve strong economic growth while simultaneously curbing emissions make it an ambitious plan that other island countries in the Caribbean can emulate. But it won’t be easy. The development plan states that success will require successful coordination of five key factors: commitments and leadership, stakeholder engagement and mobilization, effective institutions and systems, comprehensive strengthening of government capacity, and smart financing.

The CNCCMDL took pains to ensure that the development plan avoided partiality toward any one sector or political group. In order to be comprehensive and maintain the current momentum of the renewable energy sector, the council sought input from the country’s government, private sector, local and international NGOs and academia. According to Zugeilly Coss, a member of the CNCCMDL who worked closely on this project, “This plan addresses both practical and political elements with a serious perspective of sustainable development.

The Climate-Compatible Development Plan is a clear signal from the government of the Dominican Republic that sustainability will not be an afterthought but a significant principle of the country’s future planning. The CCDP follows the lead set by the Dominican Republic’s new constitution, which is considered the first constitution to clearly state that adaptation and mitigation, with respect to climate change, are the responsibility of both government and the citizenry. Furthermore, the CCDP is exactly the kind of clear government signal that Worldwatch’s Low-Carbon Roadmap calls for in the Dominican Republic. In particular, our Roadmap advocates for “loud, long and legal” policy frameworks to ensure progress in creating a sustainable energy future. The CCDP meets all three criteria, proposing to simultaneously halve emissions while doubling GDP over the next two decades through an established law that will shape the Dominican Republic’s energy landscape.

The CCDP is also a very specific and targeted plan. It calculates that if the Dominican Republic’s economic growth were to continue its BAU path, greenhouse gas emissions would increase 40 percent from the current level of 36 megatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), to more than 50 MtCO2e by 2030, equivalent to 4.3 tons of CO2e per capita by 2030. The CCDP identifies four parts of the economy that would be responsible for 70 percent of all emissions under the BAU scenario and therefore offer the greatest potential for abatement: energy, transport, forestry, and “quick wins,” a category including cement, waste and tourism.

The plan outlines abatement “levers” that can be employed to bring about significant reductions in these four sectors. In the energy sector, gains would come largely from energy efficiency measures, a larger reliance on natural gas instead of oil, and a larger presence of renewable energy. In fact, the plan projects that emissions could drop from 19 to 7 MtCO2e by 2030 if the plan’s recommendations are fully implemented. In the transportation sector, abatement options such as vehicle efficiency standards, biofuels and a modern public transportation system in the capital of Santo Domingo could result in a drop from 8 to approximately 6 MtCO2e by 2030 and a reduction of oil consumption by up to 9 million barrels of oil equivalent (MBOE) per year. In the forestry sector, the CCDP estimates that current emission levels are around 2 MtCO2e. BAU growth will see that number increase to 3 MtCO2e by 2030. However, should the Dominican Republic pursue abatement steps such as reducing deforestation and forest fires and encouraging afforestation and reforestation, emissions could drop to 1 MtCO2e. Furthermore, the report projects that the Dominican Republic could become a net carbon sink by 2030, sequestering almost 6 MtCO2e. Lastly, in the category of “quick wins,” the development plan predicts that a focus on energy efficiency in tourism, using more biofuels as a power source for the cement industry, and trapping methane gas from landfills while also increasing recycling by 50 percent can result in net emissions of 6 MtCO2e as opposed to BAU levels of 9.5 MtCO2e by 2030.

The CCDP is a bold and important plan. Given its level of detail, it is also highly analytical and thorough. In the case of the Dominican Republic, and by extension other small islands developing states (SIDS), it is exactly the kind of signal the government should be sending to show a commitment to developing a sustainable energy future.



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© 2020 by Mark Konold