Bolivia ratified the UNFCCC in 1994 as a non-annex I party and has been vocal in international climate change debates. Its national approach differs from many countries that have followed the models of UNFCCC annex I countries. A new constitution ratified in 2009 guarantees citizens the right to a healthy environment and the new social, economic, environmental and territorial model championed by the President prioritises improving the quality of life for citizens through sustainable development deemed harmonious with natural ecosystems.

In its approach to climate change Bolivia begins from the premise that wealthy industrialised countries owe a “climate debt” or “climate deficit” both to the earth (as a political subject) and to states that are not historical polluters. It calls for significant transfer of funds from countries with a “climate debt” to developing countries as payment, or reparation; as well as for increased technology transfer so that poorer countries may develop using cleaner, more efficient technology. Bolivia has proposed that the UNFCCC shall support the protection of the integrity of Mother Earth enhancing the non-market-based approach of the Convention based on co-operation among parties. In order to keep the temperature degree change below 1.5°C, a global emission index must be applied to divide among all parties the remaining carbon budget according to a criteria based on historical responsibility, right to development, ecological footprint and technological capabilities. In addition, an International Tribunal of Climate Justice must be established to oversee the fulfilment of the obligations of parties. Bolivia additionally proposed concrete mechanisms based on a non-market-approach, such as a Climate Resilience and Sustainable Development Mechanism and the Joint Mitigation and Adaptation Mechanism for the Integral and Sustainable Management of Forests, to support developing countries to promote sustainable development trajectories that combine mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

In accordance with its desire to increase democratic participation and the voice of civil society in climate change, Bolivia hosted an international summit called The World People’s Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in 2010. According to the government, more than 35,000 delegates from 140 countries participated in the conference, which was a response to the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. The conference organised working-group committees and eventually passed a communiqué, including a “People’s Agreement” and a draft of the “Universal Declaration of Mother Earth’s Rights,” which was submitted to the UNFCCC.

The government also believes the planet is an entity with inherent rights to be protected by states. The legislature has adopted the same ideology and passed the Rights of Mother Earth Law in 2010 and The Mother Earth Law and Integral Development to Live Well Law in 2012. Together the two laws are a sweeping overhaul of the national management of natural resources, climate, and ecosystem and aims to incorporate climate change perspectives into general environmental and socio-economic legislative frameworks. Climate change is mentioned in reference to equitable distribution of wealth and the right to access clean water. The law incorporates environmental justice and climate justice into the country’s environmental legal framework, creating new authoritative bodies to implement forestry, adaptation and mitigation plans; however, it lacks any hard targets by which to measure implementation of the law.

Under The Mother Earth Law, a government authority is established to oversee the implementation of climate change mitigation and adaptation principles, called the Plurinational Authority of Mother Earth and operating within the Ministry of Environment and Water (the ministry also includes a Sub-Secretary of Climate Change) and will pursue a three-pronged approach: incorporating mitigation and adaptation into national forestry management, and campaigns dedicated to mitigation and adaptation spanning various sectors of society as well as governmental institutions.

Bolivia saw the launch of the first municipal plan focused on adaptation to climate change in 2012 by the municipality of Villamontes, in the department of Tarija. The municipal government co-ordinated the adaptation plan with input from the Latin American Development Bank and national NGOs. Local indigenous groups (referred to as native peoples) called for a plan to better manage the biodiversity of the region in relation to changing climatic conditions. The plan is described as incorporating local knowledge and ancestral traditions of environmental management. It is meant to serve as a replicable model for other municipalities, especially in areas where communities depend on the local natural environment for their sustenance and economic security.

Energy Supply

The Second National Communication to the UNFCCC (2009) reports that Bolivia is nearly self-sufficient in terms of electric energy consumption and that “the government’s goal is to turn Bolivia into an energy powerhouse in the region.” The government posits that vast reserves of natural gas and significant hydropower electricity will maintain relatively low carbon emissions. An executive decree passed in 2005 approving The National Programme for Energy Efficiency was the first policy to treat both energy supply and demand in relation to climate change. The Plan sought to make reality the “vision” of Bolivia exploiting electricity-producing energy sources to sufficiently satisfy internal demand (including the demand of the country’s poorest citizens) in a rational and efficient manner as well as becoming a principle exporter of electricity in the South American Andean region.

The Law of Mother Earth (2012) reinforces the state’s preference for natural gas as a relatively low-carbon emitting resource. It states that the government shall incrementally require a growing percentage of energy consumed through the national electrical grid to be sourced from renewable “alternative sources”, but it does not give a timeframe or set any measurable targets.

Energy Demand

In various pieces of framework legislation, including the Constitution and the General Law of Electricity (1992), the rational and efficient use of energy is mentioned as a national interest. This is reinforced by the executive decree for Energy Efficiency and the Law of Mother Earth. The Plan for Energy Efficiency granted considerable authority to the Ministry of Hydrocarbons and Energy to create and enforce various energy efficiency standards, educational campaigns encouraging efficient consumption. The Plan also called for the drafting of a General Law on Energy Efficiency, which was passed in 2012. The law contains broad directions for the national and regional government to incentivise “plans, programmes and projects that seek to optimise rational use of energy” through education campaigns. The only specific directive is the project to encourage voluntarily adoption of energy efficient light bulbs (for example giving away five million efficient incandescent light bulbs).

Carbon pricing

Bolivia has a national policy stance of rejecting carbon markets. It argues that effective mitigation will come from measurable reduction of emissions domestically rather than through trading schemes that allow firms to obscure or “offset” their material emissions. As a country facing a variety of development challenges, Bolivia critiques carbon markets as an opportunity for wealthy industrialised countries to purchase emission reductions in other countries while continuing to pollute at the same rate in their own country. For this reason it refuses to participate in any carbon pricing and trading scheme.

REDD+ and LULUCF

An estimated 50% of territory is forested and 250,000 ha are lost each year most of them in areas classified as agricultural lands in the Land Use Plans of the country, mainly to agricultural expansion, small-scale farmers moving their operations to the lowlands due to highland drought, and unsustainable logging practices. Bolivia started to develop the REDD+ programme but later rejected the programme and is now one of the most critical voices against REDD+ implementation. The programme was renegotiated and redrafted in order to support the Bolivian proposal of the Joint Mitigation and Adaptation Mechanism for the Integral and Sustainable Management of Forests.

REDD, as conceived by international agencies and media, has come under criticism by indigenous groups and the government. Indigenous leaders joined other Latin American indigenous peoples at a parallel summit to the Rio+20 meeting and denounced REDD+ contracts and carbon credits associated with REDD programmes. They have called into doubt which political and commercial actors directly benefit from REDD+ programmes and have condemned any attempt to commodify nature while ignoring the traditional knowledge of indigenous cultures. The Law of Mother Earth responds to this criticism by prioritising traditional mechanisms of caring for forested areas.

Adaptation

The Law of Mother Earth proposes the development of the Plurinational Plan of Climate Change that include mitigation and adaptation, still under elaboration in the government. There is no specific legislation or executive decree on adaptation to climate change, but the National Development Plan (2006) calls for adaptation to climate change. The National Climate Change Programme has developed and implemented adaptation projects in various regions of the country.

The Mother Earth Law has an implicit focus on harmonising human and community development with the ecosystem. It therefore establishes a framework through which the government may prepare for future climate changes. By the close of 2014, for example, the government promulgated a disaster risk management law, which incorporates climate change forecasts into national, regional and local risk management strategies. In addition to creating a national fund to finance prevention projects (including adaptation programming), it decentralises planning, giving local and regional governments more authority and responsibility for building resiliency, managing risk, and responding to disaster.

At time of publication, Bolivia was reportedly developing the Plurinational Plan of Mother Earth and Climate Change. The Plan will evaluate and estimate the impacts of governmental actions with respect to climate change. The scope of the Plan as well as the defining elements of the INDCs are still being determined.

Law No. 602 of Risks Management (2014)

This law creates a national framework for disaster prevention and resilience as well as protocols for responding to disasters. It incorporates a climate change perspective by including measures that aim to adapt to changing climate conditions. The law creates the National Advisory for the Reduction of Risks and Attention to Disasters, which will include the…read more

Law No 305 on the Efficient and Rational Use of Energy (2012)

This law consists of three succinct articles (i) declaring Bolivia’s national interest in implementing plans, programmes and projects concerning energy efficiency; (ii) declaring the substitution of incandescent light bulbs for energy efficient fluorescent bulbs to be carried out through education campaigns; and (iii) that the executive branch in coordination with regional governments will develop education…read more

The Mother Earth Law and Integral Development to Live Well, Law No 300 (2012)

The Mother Earth Law is a piece of legislation that epitomises Bolivia’s dedication to sustainable development, respecting the balance between human life and the natural environment, and prioritising the rights and knowledge of the country’s majority indigenous population. The expressed objective of the law is to “establish the vision and fundamentals of integral development in…read more

The Rights of Mother Earth Law (2010)

This law is a general framework that preceding the more comprehensive 2012 Mother Earth Law. This law’s single objective is to recognize Mother Earth as a political subject enshrined with the following rights: life, biodiversity, water, clean air, equilibrium, restoration, and life free from contamination. The law stipulates the obligations of the government to protect…read more

Forest Law No. 1700 (1996)

This law was written to bring forestry legislation up to standards with the international conventions that Bolivia has signed, including the ratification of the UNFCCC as well as the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought. The law updates the legal framework, shoring up the federal state’s authority to regulate the forestry industry and economic…read more

Executive Decree No. 29466, approving the National Programme for Energy Efficiency (2008)

This two-article decree approves the National Programme for Energy Efficiency, which has the objective of establishing policies and implementing projects that optimize rational and efficient use of energy, and names the Minister of Hydrocarbons and Energy as the responsible authority. The expected results of the programme are: (i) national energy independence (ii) savings for consumers…read more

Emissions More information

Rank as emitter (including LULUCF):
21-50
GHG Emissions 2007-2011 (MtCO2e)
Country-reported GHG emissions (incl. LULUCF) (MTCO2):91.71 (reporting year: 2004)
Country-reported GHG emissions (excl. LULUCF) (MTCO2):43.67 (reporting year: 2004)

Information More information

GHG inventory:2002, 2004 (Second National Communication 2010)
Climate risk assessment:2nd National Communication to UNFCCC, 2009

Targets

Economy wide targets - Up to (and including) 2020

None

Economy-wide targets - Beyond 2020

None

Targets - Energy demand

None

Targets - LULUCF

None

Targets - Renewables

None

Targets- Transport

None

Policies

GHG Mitigation framework More information

None

Adaptation framework More information

Law No. 602 of Risks Management

Source:
  • Law No. 602 of Risks Management
  • The Mother Earth Law and Integral Development to Live Well, Law No 300
Policies - Carbon pricing

None

Policies - Promotion of low-carbon energy (inc. renewables)

None

Policies - Energy demand

None

Policies - Transport

None

Policies - LULUCF

None

The Plurinational State of Bolivia adopted a new constitution by popular referendum in 2009 that prioritises popular democratic participation and affirms social, economic and political plurality. The government is divided into four branches: executive, legislative, judicial and electoral. The executive branch is composed of the President (head of state), Vice-President and the Cabinet of Ministers. The legislative branch is bicameral and consists of the Senate – in which 36 members sit, four representatives from each of the nine regional authorities (called departments) – and the House of Deputies – with 130 members, half of whom are elected by popular direct vote and the other half listed on the presidential ticket. The most recent elections were held in December 2014 and the next legislative elections will be held in 2019.

Any congressional representative, the Vice-President, the President, the Supreme Court, or any citizen of the Republic may initiate proposed legislation, called law projects. Once a law project is passed in one house, it is debated and considered in the other. Both houses must pass the bill by a simple majority, and modifications must be resolved between the two houses by a conference committee before the President can sign it into law. Should the President oppose some provision of the legislation, he/she may return the bill with a written statement to the house of origin where the objections will be considered and passed with modifications (again in both houses). Alternatively Congress may override presidential objections or veto by a two-thirds majority vote in both houses.

Achentberg, Emily and Rebel Currents. 2012. “Earth first? Bolivia’s Mother Earth Policy meets the neo-extractivist economy.” NACLA Blog: http://nacla.org/blog/2012/11/16/earth-first-bolivia%E2%80%99s-mother-earth-Policy-meets-neo-extractivist-economy

Derecho y Cambio Climático en los Países Amazónicos: Bolivia. Sociedad Boliviana de Derecho Ambiental. Available online at: http://www.planetaverde.org/mudancasclimaticas/index.php?ling=esp&cont=pesquisa&codpais=2

Decreto Supremo No 29466, Se Aprueba el Programa Nacional de Eficiencia energética. 5 March 2008. Available online at: http://www.ae.gob.bo/userfiles/file/pdf/ml/29466.pdf

Gobierno promulga Ley que crea un fondo de Bs 80 millones para reducción de riesgos y desastres. Ministerio de Comunicación. 18 November 2014. Available online: http://www.comunicacion.gob.bo/?q=20141118/17438

Hoffmann, Dirk. Blog–Cambio Climático Bolivia: http://www.cambioclimatico-bolivia.org/index-cc.php

Kasterine, Alexander. 2013. “Bolivian strategy on climate change”. International Trade Center. 17 April 2013. Available online at: http://www.intracen.org/news/Bolivian-strategy-on-climate-change/

Lang, Chris. 2012. “Indigenous Peoples Terra Livre declaration at Rio+20 rejects REDD.” 22 June 2012. Red-Monitor: http://www.redd-monitor.org/2012/06/22/indigenous-peoples-terra-livre-declaration-at-rio-20-rejects-redd/

Ley Forestal, No 1700. 1996. Original text in Spanish available online at: http://bolivia.infoleyes.com

Ley Marco de la Madre Tierra y Desarrollo Integral para Vivir Bien, Ley No 300. 2012. Gaceta Oficial del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia. 15 October 2012. Available online at: http://bolivia.infoleyes.com

National Programme Document – Bolivia (First Version for the UN-REDD Secretariat). 20120. UN-REDD Programme, UNDP. Available online at: http://www.un-redd.org/UNREDDProgramme/CountryActions/Bolivia/tabid/976/language/en-US/Default.aspx

Quenallata, René. Bolivia incorpora tema de cambio climático en ley sobre gestión de riesgo. Spanish People Daily. 29 December 2014. Available online: http://spanish.peopledaily.com.cn/n/2014/1229/c31617-8828798.html

Raman, Meena. 2010. “Bolivia submits Cochabamba Conference outcome to UNFCCC. World’s People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. 30 April 2010: http://pwccc.wordpress.com/2010/04/30/bolivia-submits-cochabamba-conference-outcome-to-unfccc/

Second National Communication to the UNFCCC by the Plurinational State of Bolivia. 2009. Ministry of Environment and Water. Available online at: http://unfccc.int/national_reports/non-annex_i_natcom/items/2979.php

Villamontes: primer municipio Boliviano con plan de adaptación al cambio climático. 22 November 2012. Banco de Desarrollo de América Latina. Available online at: http://www.caf.com/es/actualidad/noticias/2012/11/villamontes-primer-municipio-boliviano-con-plan-de-adaptacion-al-cambio-climatico

Last modified 17 October, 2015