Costa Rica to ban fossil fuels and fully decarbonize

Costa Rica to ban fossil fuels and fully decarbonize

Costa Rica’s new president used his inaugural speech on May 9 to pledge that his nation would become the first in the world to fully decarbonize.

President Carlos Alvarado plans to end all fossil fuel use in transportation by 2021–in time for Costa Rica’s 200th anniversary of its independence.

The nation already has nearly completed decarbonizing its electricity. Last year renewable energy provided its needs for 300 days.

This is what pro-life looks like:

“Decarbonisation is the great task of our generation and Costa Rica must be one of the first countries in the world to accomplish it, if not the first,” Mr Alvarado said.

“We have 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.”

Symbolically, the president arrived at the ceremony in San Jose aboard a hydrogen-fuelled bus.

While some question the feasibility of achieving the 2021 goal in transportation, especially because the nation’s demand for cars makes it one of the fastest-growing markets in Latin America, others say there is value in setting a strong goal and attempting to achieve it, even if it takes a little longer:

Monica Araya, a Costa Rican sustainability expert and director of Costa Rica Limpia, which promotes renewable energy and electric transport, said that in a country already rapidly weaning itself off fossil fuels, focusing on transport – one of the last major challenges – could send a powerful message to the world.

“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 said.

The world has very little time left in which it will be possible to prevent the most devastating climate change scenarios. The United States, which is the nation most responsible for the extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere yet which remains in a state of sinfully reckless denial, could learn much from this small Latin American nation. Costa Rica is showing the way to a pro-life future.

Photo: Costa Rican wind turbines; Creative Commons license; credit Sergio Quesada

About the author

David Backes

I have always been drawn to where the wild things are: the natural world around me, and the wilderness within. As a writer, speaker, and university professor, I have for decades focused on this combination of nature and the human spirit. In recent years, my spiritual journey has added another lens: social, environmental and intergenerational justice. Put it all together and you’ve got The Earth Keeper, a blog of integral ecology and the prophetic imagination. The Earth Keeper may at times make you feel hopeful or inspired; it may make you feel uncomfortable or defensive or even angry. I hope it often will be challenging, and always interesting.

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