Costa Rica to ban fossil fuels and become world’s first decarbonised society
Costa Rica’s new president has announced a plan to ban fossil fuels and become the first fully decarbonised country in the world.
Carlos Alvarado, a 38-year-old former journalist, made the announcement to a crowd of thousands during his inauguration on Wednesday.
“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,” Mr Alvarado said.
Symbolically, the president arrived at the ceremony in San Jose aboard a hydrogen-fuelled bus.
Last month, Mr Alvarado said the Central American country would begin to implement a plan to end fossil fuel use in transport by 2021 – the 200th year of Costa Rican independence.
“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,” he promised during a victory speech.
Costa Rica already generates more than 99 per cent of its electricity using renewable energy sources, but achieving zero carbon transport quickly – even in a country well-known for its environmental commitment – will be a significant challenge, experts say.
Jose Daniel Lara, a Costa Rican energy researcher at the University of California-Berkeley, said completely eliminating fossil fuels within just a few years is probably unrealistic – though the plan will lay the groundwork for faster action towards that goal.
“A proposal like this one must be seen by its rhetoric value and not by its technical precision,” Mr Lara said.