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Bogota’s Waste to Resource Journey: Phase 6: Carbon economy

Niyireth Torres's picture
urban Planner Renewable energy enthusiast

I help cities, towns, and communities achieve sustainable practices by providing strategic planning using my knowledge of green building practices, renewable energy, architecture, and the retail...

  • Member since 2019
  • 20 items added with 12,857 views
  • May 26, 2021

Climate change refers to the impact of humankind on global warming and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns driven by greenhouse gas emissions; caused by the use of fossil fuels (coal, gas, petroleum) as energy sources for the production of electricity, transportation, and manufacturing of all types of goods or by other activities such as deforestation, agriculture, and livestock. It affects everyone, with potential impact projections of sea level rises, coastal erosion, loss of food security, and the rise of the mortality rate with floodings, storms, drought, and heatwaves. 


For Colombia, the potential impacts will include: 


  • Flooding in the coastal agriculture sector covering 4.9% of cultivation areas and pasture, a high vulnerability in most coastal manufacturing industries, and flooding in 44.8% of the roads on the Caribbean coast.

  • It is estimated that by the year 2030, it will affect 2.2% of the gross domestic product.

  • On the coasts, the loss of marine ecosystem and coastal coverage by mangroves and the loss of coral reefs due to the rising water temperatures.

  •  There will be increases in avalanches in the ravines adjacent to crops and livestock due to erosion.

  • There is a vulnerability in the water resources; 50% of the nation will be affected by water supply. 


Since 2011, there have been efforts to strategically articulate all the policies, strategies, plans, and incentives to fulfill the National commitment to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. An example of this is the Colombian Low Carbon Development Strategy (ECDBC) from the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development. A planning program for short, medium, and long-term economic and social development to promote competitiveness, the efficient use of resources, innovation, and new technologies. It focuses on eight sectors of mitigation: agriculture, energy, transportation, urban development, industry, waste, housing, and forests. 


I am utilizing the strategy and the mitigation sector of energy and waste to promote biogas as a strategy for mitigation and boost the economy of Bogota and the nation. The purpose of implementing biogas in an urban setting was never to replace the existing electrical grid but to diversify it and contribute to it while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and for the city to earn carbon credits. 


A carbon credit is any tradable certificate or permits representing the right to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide or equivalent amount of different greenhouse gas emissions as a national or international attempt to mitigate the growth in concentrations of greenhouse gas emissions. In some countries, emissions are capped, and then markets are used to allocate the emissions among the group of regulated sources through carbon trading. Many companies that sell carbon credits to commercial and individual customers interested in lowering their carbon footprint can purchase them through an investment fund or a carbon development company. An example of this is a car manufacturing company that exceeds the permitted carbon dioxide emissions. Instead of paying an expensive tax, it can buy carbon credits from another company with less carbon footprint. A carbon credit can be traded from $7.78 to $25.19 per tonne, depending on the project. 


As several governments implement carbon taxes and carbon limits, the value and trading of carbon credits will continue to grow. Cities looking to become carbon neutral within 30 years can finance their efforts with carbon credits. A municipality would have to make the initial investment in technology and strategies to mitigate greenhouse gases. 


As the biogas infrastructure grows in Bogota, the city can sell the mitigated greenhouse gas emissions from waste to companies, cities, or countries. As the city reduces its carbon footprint, the credits earned are invested in education, technology, and innovation to accomplish carbon neutrality for 2050. 


Bogota leads by example by perfecting biogas in an urban environment to be later achieved in other cities, such as Cali, Medellin, Barranquilla, and other smaller towns. It would be much easier for municipalities and smaller cities to implement and have much more economic gain than bigger cities. For bigger cities, there is a limited area for biogas due to existing infrastructure. In contrast, towns and cities lack infrastructure due to smaller budgets and less economic activity. With the technology perfected, villages and smaller cities would not need to invest in innovation, where the earnings can go more towards health and educational programs. 


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