Unlike the vast majority of the world’s countries, Costa Rica didn’t wait for climate change to become a hot-button issue before it passed legislation to protect the environment. This is why in 2015, the small, Central American country generated 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources for 299 days. And in 2016, it ran for 271 days on nothing but clean energy.
Costa Rica is proof that it is possible for entire nations to “go green.” It is for this reason why we can’t help but celebrate its latest milestone. Recently, the green country ran on 100% renewable energy for 300 days. Many European countries hope to accomplish that feat in 10-20 years.
The news was shared by the Costa Rican Institute of Technology, (ICE). Reportedly, the country operates on a mix of renewable energy, including hydro, wind, geothermal, biomass and solar energy. As IFLScience points out, its eco-friendly record goes hand-in-hand with the government’s goal to become carbon neutral by 2021. Deadlines were put in place more than 10 years ago. With approximately six weeks left in 2017, it is likely Costa Rica’s clean energy streak will continue.
According to Carlos Manuel Obregón, the executive president of ICE, the feat was made possible thanks to improvements to the grid and new clean power plants.
CR fue el primer país de Latinoamérica que generó electricidad a partir del viento.
— Grupo ICE (@GrupoICEcr) November 9, 2017
Granted, Costa Rica is much smaller in size and population than countries such as China and the US. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t steps nations can take individually to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and propel clean energy initiatives. Just look at France, for instance. Not only did the nation make it illegal for supermarkets to purposefully waste food, the government mandated that all new buildings needed to install a rooftop garden or solar panels.
Costa Rica is also home to a wealth of resources — which gives it an advantage over other countries. Hydropower and geothermal sources are in excess, whereas most countries lack those resources. Still, the country made the conscious choice to not invest in fossil fuels. And because citizens recognize the importance of tourism, there is extra incentive to keep the environment clean — which they do for the most part.
In many ways, Costa Rica is still “behind the curve” when it comes to sustainable initiatives. Unlike other countries, the Central American nation has no intention to replace the million or so cars that still use dirty internal combustion engines. This is a problem, as vehicle exhaust pollutes the air and contributes to the greenhouse gas effect, which propels climate change.
Nonetheless, Costa Rica’s example is still inspiring. Even if larger, developed nations ignore the Central American country’s commitment to the environment, developing nations elsewhere — particularly, its neighbors and nations throughout Africa — may learn that coal isn’t necessary to power a nation. After all, various forms of alternative energy work just fine for Costa Rica.
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