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Costa Rica's New President Vows 'Emancipation' From Dirty Transport

Politics
Carlos Alvarado Quesada / Facebook

Carlos Alvarado Quesada, the president-elect of Costa Rica, plans to continue the country's extraordinary stewardship of the environment with a pledge to decarbonize its transportation sector.

On Sunday, he promised that one day Costa Rica will "celebrate its emancipation from petrol and diesel in the transportation system, replacing them with clean energy," Climate Change News quoted him saying.


"That transformation would be the 'abolition of the army' of our generation," said Alvarado Quesada, 38, comparing the task to the country's disbanding of military forces in 1948, a point of national pride.

In recent years, Costa Rica has become a global green leader for deriving most of its electricity without using fossil fuels. Last year, the nation 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, its "Achilles heel" is its gasoline-dependent transportation sector. About half of its climate-changing emissions come from transport.

But the Costa Rican government has been working hard to green its fleet. Earlier this year, 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.

"This law will make it possible to transform Costa Rica's vehicle fleet in just a few years, from cars, cargo vehicles, trains and buses, replacing them with 100 percent electric vehicles," the outgoing president said then.

Alvarado Quesada from the ruling Citizen Action Party won more than 60 percent of the vote and will take office on May 8. According to Climate Change News, he campaigned on modernizing and electrifying an old diesel train, promoting research and development in hydrogen and biofuels by transforming the state-owned oil refinery, and banning oil and gas exploration in the country.

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