Costa Rica Launches Decarbonization Plan

On Sunday, February 24, Costa Rica launched a plan to make Costa Rica one of the world’s first decarbonized countries at an event in San José with President Carlos Alvarado Quesada and former UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. 

The plan covers ten sectoral focus areas with policy packages up to 2050. A near term Action Plan is also being developed to support the 2050 vision, which will form the basis for updating Costa Rica’s NDC in 2020. 

Update: On 12 December 2019, Costa Rica submitted the full Decarbonization Plan to the UNFCCC as its long-term strategy. Read it here.


Some key points from Costa Rica’s long-term strategy include: 

  • Transport: Passenger trains, buses, and taxis will all be zero emissions in Costa Rica by 2050. Sales of light vehicles will also be zero emissions by 2050 at the latest.
  • Energy: Costa Rica will transition to a completely renewable energy system, which will also support the transformation of the industrial sector. In 2017, Costa Rica set a new world record when it ran on 100 percent renewable energy for 300 days in a row.
  • Waste: Costa Rica will adapt its waste management system for maximum efficiency, including developing a strategy for better technological options to reduce methane from organic waste by 2022.
  • Land use: Costa Rica intends to increase the current 52% of forest cover to 60% by 2050 and improve access to green spaces for citizens.

Along with environmental considerations, the plan is based around inclusion, respect for human rights, and gender equality.

Read more about the plan here: Decarbonization Plan – Costa Rica (pdf) or here: Scribd


Reactions to the plan:

Costa Rica President Alvarado

“Costa Rica knows that decarbonization is the great task of our generation, and we want to be the first country in the world to achieve it. We are putting decarbonization at the heart of our national development, public investment and long term strategic plan. Our nation has understood that responding to climate change requires transformational – not incremental – shifts, and that the government has a key role to play in charting the path for such transformations.”

Christiana Figueres, former UNFCCC Executive Secretary and Convener, Mission2020

“No one country can solve the climate challenge on its own. Every country has a responsibility to ensure they are not further contributing to negative impacts. Costa Rica’s decarbonization plan is an excellent example for the rest of the world to follow.”

Al Gore, former vice president of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize laureate

“Decarbonising the global economy to drastically reduce the pollution of global warming is absolutely essential to ensure that our civilization can survive and thrive, and that is one of the reasons why I am so excited to see that Costa Rica continues its role as leader world to help solve the climate crisis with the rapid deployment of the strategic plan to completely decarbonize its economy.

Congratulations Costa Rica, because you are showing the rest of the world that it is definitely possible to make the transition to a low carbon economy today. Keep going with this great work. Their efforts give me and many others a lot of hope that we not only can, but we will also be able to solve the climate crisis. Thank you.”

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica

“Decarbonization is a commitment of Costa Rica with current and future generations, it means transforming the development model to a sustainable one, free of fossil fuels, that improves the country’s competitiveness and the quality of life of people. The goal is to be a country with net zero emissions by 2050.

“These transformations are not new to the country, we have done it before. We are a tropical country that stopped deforestation and tripled our per capita income, which generates 99% of our electricity from renewable sources, we abolished the army and instead decided to invest in education. Costa Rica is ready for the challenge of decarbonization.”

Pedro Sánchez, President of the Government of Spain

“Costa Rica presents today its Decarbonisation Plan which is an inspiring vision that will be your guide to comply with the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda. This ambitious plan to tackle decarbonization in the best possible way with technological and social transformations that must be transversal in all sectors, because we are all part of the solution. Costa Rica and Spain are in a position to lead this process of change. My most sincere congratulations to Costa Rica, its government and society as a whole. Today a hopeful chapter opens and we hope that it will serve as an example so that more and more countries join this road full of future.”

Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

“I congratulate Costa Rica for its leadership and permanent commitment to the environment. (…) It is a new sign of the will of Costa Rica to fulfill its commitments under the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Agenda 2030. (…) The launch of this National Plan makes Costa Rica one of the first countries in the world In promoting an initiative of this magnitude, we know that it will be an example to follow for all countries. ”

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

“My congratulations to Costa Rica for its decarbonization efforts. His leadership and good example are fundamental in the global fight against climate change and in favor of sustainable development. ”

Steve Howard, leading professional in sustainable business and co-president of the global initiative We Mean Business Coalition

“To stop global warming and its footprints, we need good government policies and incentives and bold objectives and business innovation investments. Costa Rica is showing just the leadership we need and, hopefully, we will see many countries around the world imitate it. Future-oriented businesses are ready to invest and innovate by their side. Thanks for your leadership. ”

Amy Davidsen, Executive Director of North America at The Climate Group

“Costa Rica is demonstrating truly ambitious leadership on climate action which we should all learn from and be inspired by. Their comprehensive plan to decarbonize by 2050 from a wide range of sectors and areas including transport, energy, and agriculture is exactly the approach that we need to reduce emissions, while also allowing the economy and people to thrive.

“All governments should look to Costa Rica as a leading example of the commitment and urgency to develop their own decarbonization plans to address the greatest challenge of our time – global warming.”

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