Costa Rica's El Plan Nacional de Descarbonizacion, or National Decarbonization Plan, articulates a path forward that would transform Costa Rica’s largest contributors to green house gasses: agriculture and vehicle emissions.
Claudia Dobles - the first lady and a civil planner by profession - explains the vision behind the initiative’s plan to overhaul the country’s public transportation to zero emissions.
For Dobles, the decision to set these ambitious goals is “natural”, and “something that is already a part of the DNA of the Costa Rican people. Like when we decided to have a clean hydro-electric energy. When we decided to protect a large percentage of our territory for biodiversity and create national parks.”
The question on Costa Rican’s mind is the cost. An overhaul of this magnitude will have an immense cost, one that some Costa Ricans believe should be spent on improving their daily economic needs.
But Claudia Dobles believes that traffic, long commutes, and air pollution are already costing the Costa Rican economy dearly.
A recent study published by the state estimates that Costa Rica is losing $2,500/person per year as a result of traffic and pollution.
Apart from the economic loss to the nation, Dobles emphasises the “loss in terms of ones’ quality of life when you have to spend three hours of your day in a traffic jam ... How much does it cost us truly not to do this?”
Development loans have been seen by some as unnecessary spending by the state but she assures Costa Ricans that it is worth the investment.
While making the decision to go green may be natural, the way forward will require an enormous effort involving international cooperation and banks.
Dobles reminds us: “This is an investment. This in an investment in time with our families. This is an investment in the competitiveness of our country.”
Dobles goes on to state that, ambitious as it sounds, making the leap to zero emissions is the most responsible thing to do, “if we desire to leave the next generations a world in which they can really live.”
Renzo Zanelli is a filmmaker, photographer, writer, and director of the environmental arts organization Selvarica.com. He lives in Costa Rica and New York.
Image: © Annika Beaulieu.
Costa Rica's Green New Deal