Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Costa Rica's new president announced in his inaugural address that the country would move toward 100 percent decarbonization, eliminating the use of fossil fuels for transporation by 2021. (Photo: Christian Haugen/Flickr/cc)

Costa Rica Will Become World's First Carbon-Free Country by 2021, New President Says

"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."

In his first speech as Costa Rica's new president, Carlos Alvarado Quesada announced this week a plan to make the country the world's first carbon-free society in just a few short years.

Alvarado called the goal "titanic" but expressed confidence that the forward-thinking country could eliminate the use of fossil fuels in its transportation system by 2021.

"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," Alvarado told a crowd of thousands at his inauguration.

The nation of 4.8 million people already derives 99 percent of its electricity from renewable sources including hydropower and wind.

Costa Rica's rapidly-growing automobile market is the next hurdle in ending the country's use of fossil fuels. About two-thirds of the country's energy-related fossil fuel emissions come from transportation.

Alvarado is planning to bring that percentage to zero in time for the country's 200th anniversary of becoming an independent nation.

"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," Alvarado said.

The president's goal fits with many of Costa Rica's other progressive policies. Alvarado won 60 percent of the vote in the presidential election in April, beating out Fabricio Alvarado, who focused largely on rolling back marriage equality.

The country is also part of the Wellbeing Economies Alliance—a coalition that also includes Scotland, New Zealand, and Slovenia—which instead of emphasizing countries' GDP, "seeks to ensure that public policy advances citizens' wellbeing in the broadest sense, by promoting democracy, sustainability, and inclusive growth," according to a recent column by economist Joseph Stiglitz.  

"With its rich biodiversity, Costa Rica has also demonstrated far-sighted environmental leadership by pursuing reforestation, designating a third of the country protected natural reserves, and deriving almost all of its electricity from clean hydro power," wrote Stiglitz.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

Biden Urged to Embrace Top Democrat's Call to End Deadly US Sanctions Against Venezuela

"The terrible suffering and death that Venezuela has experienced in recent years is overwhelmingly a result of economic collapse and deprivation caused by U.S. sanctions."

Kenny Stancil, staff writer ·


Nina Turner Kicks Off '$27 Dollar Donation Challenge' After Hillary Clinton Endorses Establishment Candidate in Ohio

"While the establishment is doing everything they can to stop our movement," the progressive candidate said, "we will continue elevating the issues."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·


Progressives Push for High-Speed Rail Funding in Infrastructure Deal

"This is part of our overall goal to create millions of union jobs in the United States of America building climate infrastructure to bring down our carbon emissions, save our future, and improve our quality of life."

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·


'Great News': Biden Backs 2002 AUMF Repeal as Schumer Announces Vote on Repeal

"This marks the first time in memory that a president has called for the repeal of a war authorization, a significant step towards ending the forever wars."

Andrea Germanos, staff writer ·


Unions Demand Pelosi and Schumer Include Lower Medicare Age, Drug Pricing Reform in Infrastructure Plan

"Now is the time for action to lower drug prices and improve access to care for millions."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·