Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

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."

Julia Conley

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've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Peace Advocates Sound Warnings as Progressive Lawmakers Go All-In for $40 Billion Ukraine War Package

"Russia's invasion of Ukraine must be condemned," says one activist. "But the administration has been telegraphing for weeks that its war aims now go well beyond defending Ukraine."

Brett Wilkins ·


Oklahoma Lawmakers Pass Strictest US Abortion Ban While Roe Still Stands

Reproductive rights supporters vowed to fight against the ban that begins at fertilization and, like legislation in Texas, "creates a bounty-hunting scheme" for enforcement.

Jessica Corbett ·


Judy Blume, Mo Willems Among 1,300 Children's Authors to Condemn 'Wave of Book Suppression'

"Reading stories that reflect the diversity of our world builds empathy and respect for everyone's humanity."

Kenny Stancil ·


Now Do Windfall Tax, Say Climate Groups After Passage of Big Oil Price Gouging Bill

"Voters will reward politicians who stand up for people, not polluters," said one campaigner, "and taxing windfall profits is wildly popular in every part of the country."

Brett Wilkins ·


Ocasio-Cortez: Maloney Should Quit DCCC Post If He Runs Against Mondaire Jones

"It's completely inappropriate" for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney to be in charge of the House Democrats' campaign arm "if he's going to challenge another member," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo