Costa Rica To Be Carbon Neutral
A model of success for ecotourism, Costa Rica has been a leader on green issues for decades, and recently announced plans to become entirely carbon neutral by 2021. It joins a growing number of nations racing to become carbon neutral by offsetting or reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
Though Costa Rica’s greenhouse gases account for less than 0.02% of the world’s total emissions, the country strives to be a part of a global solution. Costa Rica has taken bold actions on environmental initiatives through the years, by setting aside nearly 30% of its land for national parks and reserves, and pioneering clean energy production.
Located between Nicaragua and Panama on the Central American isthmus, the country is flush with natural resources. Wind, water and solar power are abundant. In fact, over 90% of the country’s energy comes from clean and renewable sources. Costa Rica generates 78% of its own energy by hydroelectric means and an additional 18% by geothermal or wind power.
In an effort to achieve carbon neutrality, the government compensates landowners for planting trees on their property. Last year, over six million trees were planted throughout the country, exceeding the initial goals set by the government. According to former President Oscar Arias, trees now cover 51% of the country, a 10% increase over the last ten years. This mass reforestation is crucial in protecting watersheds, preserving natural beauty, and most importantly, trapping harmful carbon gases. The hope is that these millions of newly planted trees will absorb enough carbon dioxide to offset the emissions of greenhouse gases.
Fortunately, Costa Rica is already ahead in the carbon neutral race; according to a United Nations report, in 2003 the country produced 1.5 tons of carbon per person – a stark contrast to the nearly 10 tons per person recorded in Norway. The government is currently attempting to reduce emissions from transport, industry and farming sectors.
The people of Costa Rica have always placed a high intrinsic value on the country’s natural environment and native wildlife. This passion continues to surface in the form of innovative programs and progressive environmental policies. If there is a single nation on Earth that can achieve carbon neutrality, it is Costa Rica.
As a tourist or resident in this beautiful nation, be proactive and consider these options to reduce your carbon footprint:
- Car Rental: Reforestation and other carbon offset projects help several local car rental companies offer guilt-free rentals to explore the country.
- Regional Flights: Take a flight on Nature Air, Costa Rica’s carbon neutral domestic airline. Its planes use biofuel made from cooking oil and will quickly transport you to one of many popular vacation destinations.
- Shuttle Buses: Hop aboard a certified sustainable shuttle bus and join passengers headed to the same destination.