The tiny country, Costa Rica, is making headway in becoming the first plastic-free and carbon-free country in the world. And the prospects are looking quite good too.
Since the year 2014 the country has transformed their lives and ran their operations on 99% renewable sources. Twice, they were able to run their operations on 100% renewable sources for over 2 months. In June 2017, they planned to eliminate the use of single-use plastic by the year 2021. Summer 2018, they announced plans to become carbon-free by 2021.
Joseph Stiglitz mentions that Costa Rica is a country has rich biodiversity and it tries to preserve it through environmental leadership. They are going for afforestation, reforestation and drawing electricity from hydro-power.
In the 1980s, the Costa Rica government understood that nature was their vital asset and so, the country established protected areas and began reforestation. Nature had to be protected in every way possible. According to the Costa Rican Electricity Institute, they produce one of the lowest rates of greenhouse gases as they get their electricity from renewable resources. No more coal burning.
In the previous 4-5 years, the country has generated 99% of its energy from sources like volcanoes, river, and solar power. The Reventazón River on the Caribbean slope has a hydroelectric power plant operating since 2016. It is one of the largest in Central America, if not the largest. Plus, they have 7 wind turbine plants, a solar plant, and 6 hydroelectric plants. ¾ of their power comes from rivers, and the rest from wind and geothermal energy, and biomass. A small quantity is generated using solar power.
The plastic problem is the next thing for Costa Rica to tackle. On World Environment Day, they announced that they would eliminate single-use plastic by 2021 Plastic will be replaced with biodegradable plastics, all of it being non-petroleum based.
Decarbonization was one of the major tasks undertaken by Carlos Alvarado Quesada, the president of the country. It is a tremendous effort of course, but he is quite confident that they would reach it. Fossils fuels generated due to transportation will be eliminated first and will conincide well with the 200th anniversary of Costa Rica Independence.
A Costa Rica sustainability expert and director of Costa Rica Limpia, economist Monica Araya claims that for a small country, getting rid of the use of fossil fuels is a great task.
Plus, since most countries are starting to support this idea, when a small country acts on it and weans off fossil fuel, it delivers a great message.
No wonder, it is a great start!
The country is not forgetting its citizens either. It is part of a coalition called Wellbeing Economy Alliance, which includes Slovenia, New Zealand and Scotland too. It is a coalition that does not focus on GDP like most economies do, but rather on the well-being of citizens through sustainability, democracy, and inclusive growth. A perfect economic model, some would say.
Let’s hope Costa Rica could inspire others as well with its progressive thoughts!