Costa Rica Will Abolish Fossil Fuels In A Bid To Be The First Decarbonized Country In The World

Arenal Volcano. Costa Rica. Photo: Esdelval / Shutterstock

The President of Costa Rica announces the “Beautiful Task” of eliminating fossil fuels from his country, to make way for renewable energies.

Carlos Alvarado, the new president of Costa Rica, announced the « titanic and beautiful task of abolishing the use of fossil fuels in our economy to make way for the use of clean and renewable energies «.

The 38-year-old former journalist also wants the country to be a global example of decarbonisation.

Decarbonization is the great task of our generation, and Costa Rica must be among the first countries in the world to achieve it, if not the first ,” he said.

Its goal is for Costa Rica to lead the Paris agreement on climate change and be a “global decarbonization laboratory” before the United Nations climate negotiations in 2020 (COP 26).

The nation already generates most of its electricity without using fossil fuels. Last year, the country of 4.8 million inhabitants spent 300 consecutive days consuming only clean energy. That impressive feat broke its record of 299 days of 100% renewable production in 2015. It also spent 271 days using only renewable energy production in 2016.

Despite having a 98% renewable energy grid, Costa Rica has a transportation sector that relies on oil, with about half of its emissions coming from transportation.

Still, the government has been working hard to green its fleet. Former President Luis Guillermo Solís signed a law that eliminates taxes on the sale, import and circulation of electric vehicles, and allows them to use municipal parking lots for free.

Alvarado, who arrived at his inauguration ceremony in Plaza de la Democracia in a hydrogen bus, campaigned to modernize and electrify old means of transportation, promote research and development in hydrogen and biofuels, and ban oil exploration. and gas in the country.

He announced his intentions to ban fossil fuels for transportation by 2021, the year Costa Rica reaches 200 years of independence.

Energy experts, however, cast doubt on the plan. They warn that the plan to eliminate fossil fuels in a few years is not realistic.

Oscar Echeverría, president of the Association of Vehicle and Machinery Importers, said that the change to clean transportation cannot be rushed because the market is so far underdeveloped.

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« If there is no prior infrastructure, competition, affordable prices and waste management, we would be leading this process to failure. We have to be careful ,” Echeverría explained.

But economist Mónica Araya, a Costa Rican sustainability expert and director of Clean Costa Rica, praised the government’s approach to eliminating polluting energy sources.

« Getting rid of fossil fuels is a great idea from a small country. This is an idea that is starting to gain international support with the rise of new technologies ,” he told Reuters.

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