Costa Rica has pledged that it will offset all of its carbon emissions and go carbon neutral by the year 2030 – that is, before any other nation in the world.
Costa Rica already has an excellent reputation in the sphere of green issues. It has protected areas which cover more than a quarter of the tiny Central American republic, including national parks and jungle reserves. It already uses renewable energy to generate more than 96 per cent of its energy and it plans to further reduce and offset the emissions created from agriculture, transport and industry.
The environment Minister, Roberto Dobles said the state would promote the use of hybrid vehicles and planting of trees through economic compensation. Landowners are paid to grow trees to capture carbon and protect watersheds. This, according to Esteban Brenes, a conservation finance specialist at the WWF, is the secret of Costa Rica’s success “The fact that Costa Rica has applied the payments on a national scale is what’s innovative.” This is the reason why countries such as Norway are losing out in the race to become carbon neutral.
Critics however, point to the fact that Costa Rica has a poor reputation regarding national corruption and that landowners should be compensated for growing crops rather than trees. Their logic is based on the fact that an already poor country could get poorer through a false economy of tree-planting and that the money could be put to better use, such as improving social justice. Critics are also quick to suggest that this may be part of a larger marketing strategy to put the country “on the map.”
Notwithstanding this cynical perspective, even if the country’s effort to go carbon neutral were solely for marketing, you could argue that the jungle-cloaked island could attract more tourism and boost its wealth through these measures. Anyway, Environmental Graffiti believes it is easy to criticise but harder to lead. Go Costa Rica!