Costa Rica goes carbon neutral

| 29th April 2019
Claudia Doblesso
Annika Beaulieu
Costa Rica is embarking on an ambitious plan to become completely carbon neutral by 2050. 


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.”

Traffic pollution

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. 

Next generations

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.”

These Authors

Renzo Zanelli is a filmmaker, photographer, writer, and director of the environmental arts organization  He lives in Costa Rica and New York.  

Image: © Annika Beaulieu.

Costa Rica's Green New Deal


The Ecologist has a formidable reputation built on fifty years of investigative journalism and compelling commentary from writers across the world. Now, as we face the compound crises of climate breakdown, biodiversity collapse and social injustice, the need for rigorous, trusted and ethical journalism has never been greater. This is the moment to consolidate, connect and rise to meet the challenges of our changing world. The Ecologist is owned and published by the Resurgence Trust. Support The Resurgence Trust from as little as £1. Thank you. Donate here