Regarding the differentiated phase-out of fossil fuels, Colombia emerged prominently as an example of a developing nation committed to combating climate change. The Colombian president pledged to cease the exploration of fossil fuels and the assignment of new contracts for extraction—a stark contrast to the COP Presidency’s decision to continue investing in oil, or Brazil’s choice to join OPEC+, a coalition influencing crude oil market prices. Given that oil and coal exports account for more than half of Colombia’s total exports, why is Colombia adopting more aggressive decarbonization measures than wealthier nations? While the president’s announcement at COP28 garnered applauses in the conference, it has stirred discontent among Colombian citizens. Surveys indicate that 59% of Colombians disapprove of ending oil exploration contracts, and 65% favored multinational companies and foreign investment.

Is this an irrational behavior of the Colombian President? Following declarations at COP28 gave me some nuances about this question. On one hand, the government strategically utilized this stance to spearhead discussions on global financial system reforms. The Environmental Ministry advocated for access to capital for green transitions and a new economic deal. On this direction, the governments of France, Colombia, and Kenya announced the Global Expert Review on Debt, Nature, and Climate, with the purpose of experts to understand how debt impedes climate action and decarbonization efforts. Moreover, during COP28, the President announced an investment portfolio presenting opportunities exceeding 32 billion USD. This portfolio encompasses initiatives such as nature swaps, investments in ecotourism, and the development of green energies, among other strategic ventures. This initiative presented clear options for leveraging finance within the country.

On the other hand, while these financial plans appear plausible in the medium run, the abrupt interruption of fossil fuels poses a considerable risk. Given other countries’ decisions and the global context, such a move may not significantly impact worldwide emissions. There is a prevailing consensus that less-resourced countries have time for a gradual transition, allowing for economic planning of transitions without jeopardizing their developmental trajectories.

Hence, although the Colombian government earned recognition as a climate leader among developing nations, the economic and financial plan for a transition is still in its infancy, echoing the Ministry’s acknowledgment: “we cannot drop a cord without clinging to the next cord.” The journey of how Colombia, alongside other developing countries, navigates this transition path is yet to be seen.

Finally, it is noteworthy to mention than Colombia alongside Brazil announced new financing deals to protect the Amazon Rainforest.

At COP28, both Lula and Colombian President Gustavo Petro have agreed on zero deforestation by 2030,

Brazil proposed the Tropical Forest Forever mechanism, aiming to raise 250 billion USD to safeguard the Amazon Rainforest. Notable pledges during the conference included Norway’s commitment of 50 million USD for the protection of the Brazilian Amazon and a joint commitment from the UK and Norway amounting to 29 million USD for the conservation of the Colombian Amazon. While these contributions represent significant investments, they fall considerably short of the financial requirements estimated by Brazil for ensuring a thriving Amazon.