The small country of Costa Rica is setting itself the ambitious task of becoming the first country in the world to be plastic and carbon-free.

Not only are they trying to achieve what no other country has managed to date, the 38-year-old president Carlos Alvarado is hoping to complete his mission by the year 2012 to fall in line with the 200th anniversary of its independence.

The pledge Costa Rica has made, if implemented in time, will make them the first country to be carbon and single-use plastic free in the world. The country first announced its plans to rid the country of single-use plastic back in 2017 as part of World Environment Day and now, with carbon emissions in its sights.

“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,” Alvarado said in his inauguration speech. ”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 attempting to enforce decarbonisation.

Explaining further, Alvarado said: “We have launched an economy-wide plan to decarbonise our country in line with the Paris agreement on climate change and the objectives of the UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda,” in an op-ed feature in the Financial Times. “Decarbonising is not only about the power grid. Transport is the biggest source of emissions in Costa Rica,” he added.

“Demand for cars is rising, and the majority of the population commutes by diesel-powered buses or trains. But this provides further opportunities for investment and electrification. We have incentives for electric vehicles, and are focusing on making public transportation more integrated.”

After demonstrations about the disruption to public services, the president offered an insight into the challenge ahead: “Overhauling our transport network is going to be a similarly huge undertaking,” Furthermore, Alvarado confirmed the price of living will increase in the short term: “Paying for the changes might initially translate into higher prices for consumers. However, I believe that this will be compensated by the extraordinary benefits we will all reap.”

He continued: “This transition cannot take place in a vacuum, and we cannot leave people behind as we decarbonise. Socio-economic issues must be taken into consideration. So our strategy also addresses tax, labour, digitalisation, transparency, education and investment.”

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