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Costa Rica Powered Entirely by Renewables So Far This Year

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For the last 82 days, Costa Rica has powered itself using only renewable energy sources.

The country’s tropical climate with high rainfall, mountainous interior and low population gives it a distinct advantage in terms of renewable energy.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

That means the Latin American country hasn’t had to use fossil fuels at all so far in 2015.

Last week, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) announced that 100 percent of the country's electricity came from renewables for the first 75 days of the year, as heavy rains boosted the country’s hydroelectric power plants.

Wind, solar, biomass and geothermal energy have also helped power the country.

Costa Rica is one of the most developed countries in Latin America and ranks above some European Union countries in annual prosperity rankings.

The country also boasts strong green credentials on energy policy.

In 2009, it announced a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2021, and the country already gets around 88 percent of its total electricity from renewable sources.

The country’s tropical climate with high rainfall, mountainous interior and low population gives it a distinct advantage in terms of renewable energy.

Its reliance on renewables prompted the country to lower electricity rates by 12 percent, and the ICE predicts they could continue to drop in the second quarter of the year.

However, the country’s reliance on hydroelectricity—which provides 68 percent of the country’s electricity—also makes it vulnerable to climate change. Any change to rainfall patterns could disrupt its supply.

In addition to hydroelectricity, Costa Rica receives 15 percent of its electricity needs from geothermal plants, while five percent is supplied by wind.

Solar and biomass also contribute to the country’s energy mix.

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Aerial view of Ruropolis, Para state, northen Brazil, on Sept. 6, 2019. Tthe world's biggest rainforest is under threat from wildfires and rampant deforestation. JOHANNES MYBURGH / AFP via Getty Images

By Kate Martyr

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest last month jumped to the highest level since records began in 2015, according to government data.

A total of 563 square kilometers (217.38 square miles) of the world's largest rainforest was destroyed in November, 103% more than in the same month last year, according to Brazil's space research agency.

From January to November this year an area almost the size of the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico was destroyed — an 83% overall increase in destruction when compared with the same period last year.

The figures were released on Friday by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), and collected through the DETER database, which uses satellite images to monitor forest fires, forest destruction and other developments affecting the rainforest.

What's Behind the Rise?

Overall, deforestation in 2019 has jumped 30% compared to last year — 9,762 square kilometers (approximately 3769 square miles) have been destroyed, despite deforestation usually slowing during November and December.

Environmental groups, researchers and activists blamed the policies of Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro for the increase.

They say that Bolosonaro's calls for the Amazon to be developed and his weakening support for Ibama, the government's environmental agency, have led to loggers and ranchers feeling safer and braver in destroying the expansive rainforest.

His government hit back at these claims, pointing out that previous governments also cut budgets to environment agencies such as Ibama.

The report comes as Brazil came to loggerheads with the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) over climate goals during the UN climate conference in Madrid.

AOSIS blasted Brazil, among other nations, for "a lack of ambition that also undermines ours."

Last month, a group of Brazilian lawyers called for Bolsonaro to be investigated by the International Criminal Court over his environmental policies.

Reposted with permission from DW.

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