Costa Rica plans to become the world's first plastic-free, fossil fuel-free country.
“Decarbonization 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.
At his inauguration earlier this year, President Carlos Alvarado Quesada of Costa Rica announced plans to ban fossil fuels and single-use plastics in an initiative to become the world’s first decarbonized society:
“Decarbonization 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.”
Costa Rica is already ahead of the curve on this process. 99 percent of it's power comes from natural resources like water, geothermal, wind, and solar. This lead to the country spending a record-breaking 300 days of natural power in 2017. The next part of their plan is to incentivize buying electric cars by offering rebates and discounts.
“When we reach 200 years of independent life we will take Costa Rica forward and celebrate… that we’ve removed gasoline and diesel from our transportation,” the president said in his inauguration speech.
In addition, Costa Rica plans to ban single use plastics. All single used items instead have to come in 100% recyclable or biodegradable materials that are not petroleum-based. The country is implementing these policies with the technical and financial support of the United Nations Development Program.
In an interview with economist Mónica Araya, a Costa Rican sustainability expert and director of Costa Rica Limpia, the plan is fleshed out even further.
“Getting rid of fossil fuels is a big idea coming from a small country. This is an idea that’s starting to gain international support with the rise of new technologies”, she said. “For example, it took almost 20 years to get to one million electric cars (worldwide). It took 18 months to reach two million. The third million happened in around the next eight months. This is exponential growth.”
But it's going to be some work convincing the world that it needs to change.
“Tackling resistance to change is one of the most important tasks we have right now” Araya said.