Climate Change

Published on October 18th, 2009 | by Guest Contributor

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Costa Rica Sets Goal to be Carbon Neutral by 2021

Costa Rica, already one of the greenest countries in the world, has the ambitious goal of becoming the world’s largest carbon neutral country by 2021. The only other country with nationwide carbon neutral aspirations is the Maldives, which recently held an underwater cabinet meeting to highlight its call for global climate change action.

Photo Credit: Wha’ppenWill Paradise Be Carbon Neutral?

Will Paradise Be Carbon Neutral?

As evidence of the national commitment, a website called CO2 Neutral 2021 founded by a group of young professionals seeks to develop policy and program recommendations around three steps:

(1) ensuring the country has a credible roadmap to attain its goal

(2) persuading leaders in business and society to take bold actions

(3) energizing the general public, particularly young people, to take actions and have their voices heard.

Their homepage states that Costa Rica’s greenhouse gas emissions will grow by 16 million tons and their current plans will offset 10 million tons in reductions, leaving a need for innovation to offset the remaining 6 million tons.

The Costa Rican already has many programs in place. What are they doing?

  • 95%+ of current energy is renewable. (78% hydroelectric, 18% wind & geothtermal)
  • 26% of their territory is protected as national parks.
  • Costa Rica’s NatureAir airline is the world’s only 100% carbon neutral airline.
  • More trees are planted per capita in Costa Rica than in anywhere else in the world.
  • They are planning a solar monorail system in San Jose.

There are skeptics, many of which come from inside Costa Rica. Some say that the goal is a fantasy of President Arias, that he is vying for international acclaim and hiding the rising carbon emissions over the first 3 years of his new presidential term. They also point to the controversial Las Crucitas gold mine that could require clearing 125 acres of rainforest and potentially pollute the San Juan River with cyanide.

So will it work?

“Here’s the big goal, which I am personally declaring for the first time tonight [2007]. By 2021, Costa Rica’s 200th birthday, we will be a carbon neutral country,” President Arias said in 2007.

With happens in Costa Rica will go a long way toward showing what is possible around the world.





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