Costa Rica to become first decarbonised society
Published: 16 May 2018

The new President of Costa Rica has set out plans to ban fossil fuels and for the country to become the first fully decarbonised country in the world.

Carlos Alvardo, a 38 year old former journalist, made the announcement during his inauguration last Wednesday. After appropriately arriving via a hydrogen-fuelled bus, he commented:

"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.

"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.”

Costa Rica already generates more than 99% of its electricity using renewable energy sources, but achieving zero carbon transport quickly will be a huge challenge, even for a country well regarded for its environmental commitment.

Jose Daniel Lara, a Costa Rican energy researcher at the University of California-Berkeley, said completely eliminating fossil fuels within just a few years is probably unrealistic. However the plan will lay the groundwork for faster action towards that goal.

"A proposal like this one must be seen by its rhetoric value and not by its technical precision," Mr Lara said.

This view was backed up by Monica Araya, a sustainability expert and director of Costa Rica Limpia, which promotes renewable energy and electric transport. She emphasised that in a country already rapidly weaning itself off fossil fuels, focusing on transport could send a "powerful message to the world".