Costa Rica Plans to Be the First Plastic-Free and Carbon-Free Country in the World by 2021


One of the top 5 countries in the world that is taking the lead into renewable resources is none other than Costa Rica. Its environmental impact is enormous compared to its size. From the year 2014, the country’s energy 99% comes from renewable sources and has twice run 100% on renewable energy in the last two years for more than two months. By 2021, they are planning to ban the use of single-use plastic and in 2018, they said that they will aim to entirely remove carbon by the year 2021 as well, becoming the first carbon-free country in the entire world.

An American economist Joseph Stiglitz stated the following:

“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 hydropower.”

The government realized since the 1980s that the main asset that Costa Rica has is its nature, thus making everything they can to protect it. They’ve protected more than 25% of the entire surface of the country. They have also helped some parts with reforestation, as well as create zoo closures.

 “Basing [electricity] generation on renewable resources allows the country to achieve one of the lowest ratios of greenhouse gas emissions to electrical consumption on the planet.” has been stated by The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE)

In the past four years, Costa Rica’s electricity has been generated all but 1% from renewable sources through their wind, volcanoes, rivers, and solar power. The Reventazón River on the Caribbean slope has the largest hydroelectric plant in Central America and has begun its operation in 2016. The country also has seven wind turbine plants, solar plant, and six hydroelectric plants. The ICE released a statement that ¾ of the renewable energy that they produce come from the hydroelectric plants on the rivers. The next percentage of power they generate from wind power and geothermal, thus leaving solar power which generates a small percentage.

On the World Environmental Day last year, the country had announced its plan to remove all single-use plastics by the year 2021. From then on, plastic needs to be replaced by 100% recyclable or biodegradable alternatives that are not petroleum-based. The United Nations Development Program gives financial support and technical support to the country in order to help them achieve their goal.

Carlos Alvarado Quesada has been elected as the new president in Costa Rica and as his first act in office, he has taken the step to reduce carbonization. When the president was inaugurated as one of the world leaders, he gave out a statement that he plans to ban fossil fuels and be one of the first decarbonized society in the world. The statement that he gave out is the following:

 “De-carbonization 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.”

He admits that in order to become the first carbon-free country it will take some time and drastic measures, but in the end, it will all be worth it. He is hopeful to stop the use of fossil fuels for their transportation system by 2021, which is the year the nation will celebrate its 200th anniversary of their independence. The president also stated:

 “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.”

Mónica Araya, director of Costa Rica Limpia and Costa Rican sustainability expert that also promotes electric transport and renewable energy has stated the following:

 “Getting rid of fossil fuels is a big idea coming from a small country. This is an idea that’s starting to gain international support with the rise of new technologies. In a country already rapidly weaning itself off fossil fuels, focusing on transport – one of the last major challenges – could send a powerful message to the world.”

The small country of Costa Rica has proved that it’s a forward-thinking country through its great impression in environmentalism. It also concentrates on the lives of its citizens. The country is part of the Wellbeing Economies Alliance together with New Zealand, Scotland, and Slovenia, which instead of highlighting the countries’ GDP, “seeks to ensure that public policy advances citizens’ wellbeing in the broadest sense, by promoting democracy, sustainability, and inclusive growth,” Joseph Stiglitz has expressed in a recent column.

The following video shows Mónica Araya, a Costa Rican climate activist who also works with the president of her country on sustainability issues do an interview for Democracy Now!


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