Costa Rica’s target – Carbon Neutral by 2021

President Aims for Carbon Neutrality

The race is on.
In perhaps his boldest environmental move yet, President Oscar Arias announced that Costa Rica will be carbon neutral by 2021 – and hopes to be the first in the world to reach the green benchmark. That means bulking up on forest cover and cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions, according to experts. The deadline may be new – but Costa Rica’s fundamental commitment to the environment isn’t, President Arias said in a speech at the Wharton Global Alumni Forum on Business and the Environment at the Real-Intercontinental Hotel in the southwest Central Valley town of Escazú June 7. “While other countries were cutting down their trees, Costa Rica was planting for our future, creating a 10% gain in the amount of territory blessed with leafy vegetation,” he said. The President’s announcement came at the tail end of San José’s notorious evening rush hour, when thousands of Costa Ricans flee the city for suburbia in cars and old buses belching fumes on heavily congested roads. Despite the honking horns and clouds of exhaust just outside the hotel’s windows, Arias reminded his audience that hydrocarbons – including gasoline and diesel – bear a heavy tax burden in Costa Rica, making fuel here more expensive than in any other country in Central America. Three percent of these taxes fund Costa Rica’s cutting-edge payment for environmental services program, called the National Forest Financing Fund (FONAFIFO), which compensates landowners for growing trees. The program doles out almost $15 million a year to more than 8,000 property owners (TT, May 25). “Today Costa Rica is the only developing country to have adopted a tax on hydrocarbons,” Arias said. “An ounce of prevention is worth a gallon of crude.” On World Environment Day last week, Environment and Energy Minister Roberto Dobles announced the country’s intentions to promote hybrid vehicles and encourage use of public transportation to cut down on emissions, as well as a tree-planting campaign to continue the reforestation process (TT, June 8). Dozens of the world’s most respected leaders in climate change research and economics at the Wharton event applauded the country’s commitment, heralding it as the kind of bold initiative required to stem global warming.

To read the full article follow the links below:
All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life (Published by the Tico Times, 6/15/07) By Dave Sherwood

Has to make you wonder what the response from other countries will be. After all if Costa Rica can do it – Why can’t we??