Carlos Alvarado, the president of Costa Rica, recently announced the republic’s plans to stop using fossil fuels by 2050. The move is a drastic measure that Alvarado believes is necessary — both to mitigate current damage and to slow the progress of climate change. While the country is still considered developing, its new efforts are miles ahead of other states’, especially the United States’; clearly, Costa Rica’s forward-thinking environmental action should not only be recognized and lauded but also modeled by other progressive countries.
Costa Rica’s new goal — while difficult to accomplish — does not come as a surprise. The nation’s constant emphasis on battling climate change has historically been an icon for observant environmentalists internationally; while not much media attention has focused on the developing nation, its innovative measures send a clear message to other countries.
According to the New York Times, the nation “has doubled its forest cover” over the course of the past 30 years — which has resulted in literally half of its land being covered by trees. Efforts like this, although sometimes unnoticed on a global scale, represent a Costa Rica increasingly aware and fearful of climate change. This forward-thinking sentiment is unfortunately a rare one, often avoided by both developing and developed nations.
Past trends have indicated that developed nations such as the United States are more likely to advocate for global climate change initiatives; this is primarily due to the fact that their country’s growth occurred when minimal research outlined the regressive effects of cheap resources like fossil fuels. Now, with the right resources, environmental changes are achievable.
For many currently developing nations such as Algeria and Haiti, though, leaders find themselves at a crossroads. The need for aggressive environmental measures is exacerbated by poverty, economic hardship and government instability, and these struggles among others only increase nations’ vulnerability to climate change. While a solid long-term option, the switch to cleaner resources is more immediately expensive, and thus inaccessible to those who need reform urgently. Costa Rica is one of several countries most susceptible to ecological destruction.
Because of its developing nation status, the Latin American country’s launch of such a radical initiative is all the more incredible.
How is President Alvarado going to be able to accomplish such a dramatic goal considering Costa Rica’s developing economy? That is the most prominent question that skeptics pose, as the initiative is projected to cost about $6.5 billion in the next 11 years. The Costa Rican government asserts the nation will be able to withstand the hefty price through shared efforts by the private and public sectors. Time will reveal whether the definitive bureaucratic support and following funding efforts are effective in the country’s secession from fossil fuel use.
What is so special about Costa Rica is not only its unanimous support for positive environmental policymaking but its acceptance of the fact that climate change is a real problem.
Climate science is not as unashamedly embraced in other countries both developing and developed; in many ways, Costa Rica’s efforts vastly eclipse that of the United States — whose water pollution, deforestation and drought crises make up only a portion of unapproached environmental issues. Other nations address climate change to varying degrees, none placing as much priority on prevention as the Costa Rican government. According to the New York Times, scientists have since announced a need for the implementation of similar plans internationally in order to prevent mass ecological destruction. Costa Rica should not be the sole country launching this radical a program – and as the so-called leader of the free world, the United States must undergo some environmental policy development itself.