Quantcast

Costa Rica President Announces 'Titanic and Beautiful Task' of Abolishing Fossil Fuels

Renewable Energy
Puntarenas, Costa Rica. kansasphoto/ Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Carlos Alvarado, the new president of Costa Rica, announced the country's "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."

He made the remarks at his inauguration speech Wednesday in front of a crowd of thousands, the Independent reported.


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

"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.

His goal is for Costa Rica to lead the Paris agreement on climate change and be a "world decarbonization laboratory" before the United Nations' climate talks in 2020 (COP 26).

The Central American nation already derives most of its electricity without using fossil fuels. Last year, the country of 4.8 million people ran for 300 consecutive days on its renewable energy mix of hydropower, wind and geothermal. That impressive feat bested its 2015 record of 299 days of 100 percent renewable production. It also went 271 days using only renewable energy production in 2016.

Despite a 98 percent renewable power grid, Costa Rica has a gasoline-dependent transportation sector, with roughly half of its emissions coming from transport.

Still, the government has been working hard to green its fleet. Former president Luis Guillermo Solís signed a law that eliminates sales, customs and circulation taxes for electric vehicles and allows them to use municipal parking facilities free of charge.

Alvarado, who arrived to his inauguration ceremony at the Plaza de la Democracy on a hydrogen bus, campaigned on modernizing and electrifying older modes of transport, promoting research and development in hydrogen and biofuels, and banning oil and gas exploration in the country.

In a speech last month, he announced 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, as Reuters reported. They warn that the plan to eliminate fossil fuels in a handful of years is unrealistic.

Oscar Echeverría, president of the Vehicle and Machinery Importers Association, said the switch to clean transport cannot be rushed because the market is so far undeveloped.

"If there's no previous infrastructure, competence, affordable prices and waste management we'd be leading this process to failure. We need to be careful," Echeverría explained to the news service.

But economist Mónica Araya, a Costa Rican sustainability expert and director of Costa Rica Limpia, praised the government's focus on weaning off polluting energy sources.

"Getting rid of fossil fuels is a big idea coming from a small country. This is an idea that's starting to gain international support with the rise of new technologies," she told Reuters. "Tackling resistance to change is one of the most important tasks we have right now."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pixabay

By Alina Petre, MS, RD (CA)

Purple cabbage, also referred to as red cabbage, belongs to the Brassica genus of plants. This group includes nutrient-dense vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Lauren Wolahan

For the first time ever, the UN is building out a roadmap for curbing carbon pollution from agriculture. To take part in that process, a coalition of U.S. farmers traveled to the UN climate conference in Madrid, Spain this month to make the case for the role that large-scale farming operations, long criticized for their outsized emissions, can play in addressing climate change.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Rachael Link, MS, RD

In recent years, acai bowls have become one of the most hyped-up health foods on the market.

They're prepared from puréed acai berries — which are fruits grown in Central and South America — and served as a smoothie in a bowl or glass, topped with fruit, nuts, seeds, or granola.

Read More Show Less
Investing in grid infrastructure would enable utilities to incorporate modern technology, making the grid more resilient and flexible. STRATMAN2 / FLICKR

By Elliott Negin

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences' recent decision to award the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to scientists who developed rechargeable lithium-ion batteries reminded the world just how transformative they have been. Without them, we wouldn't have smartphones or electric cars. But it's their potential to store electricity generated by the sun and the wind at their peak that promises to be even more revolutionary, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and protecting the planet from the worst consequences of climate change.

Read More Show Less
Two Javan rhinos deep in the forests of Ujung Kulon National Park, the species' last habitat on Earth. Sugeng Hendratno / WWF

By Basten Gokkon

The global population of the critically endangered Javan rhinoceros has increased to 72 after four new calves were spotted in the past several months.

Read More Show Less