Costa Rica is positioning itself to be the first country in the world to be totally free of single-use plastics and fossil fuels by 2021.
At his inauguration earlier this year, President Carlos Alvarado Quesada announced his initiative to ban fossil fuels and 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.”
While it may sound like a pipe dream, the country is already almost there.
Almost 99% of Costa Rica’s energy already comes renewable sources, such as rivers, volcanoes, geothermal, wind and solar power.
In 2017, the country ran on 100% renewable energy for 300 days straight.
Now, the government is focused on switching to all electric cars using incentives to make them as cheap as cars that run in gas.
“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.
Along with coal and petroleum, the country aims to make single-use plastics a thing of the past.
Last year, the government announced its plan to eradicate all single-use plastics by 2021.
From then on, plastic has to be replaced by alternatives that are 100% recyclable or biodegradable and not petroleum-based.
Costa Rica has the technical and financial support of the United Nations Development Program to help accomplish the goal.
Economist Mónica Araya, a Costa Rican sustainability expert and director of Costa Rica Limpia, goes into more detail in a Democracy Now interview.