New Costa Rica leader vows to take country towards oil-free future

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Costa Rica already has close to 100% renewable power for electricity. Its newly elected president now promises to replace petrol and diesel in the transport system.

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Climate Change News

Carlos Alvarado Quesada on the campaign trail for the Costa Rican presidency (Pic: Facebook/Carlos Alvarado Quesada)

Facing his supporters after being elected as Costa Rica’s next president, 38-year old Carlos Alvarado Quesada vowed to decarbonise the economy of the small Central American nation and uphold its green tradition.

A centre-left former cabinet minister from the governing party, Alvarado Quesada promised on Sunday night a future in which the country can “celebrate its emancipation from petrol and diesel in the transportation system, replacing them with clean energy”.

“That transformation would be the ‘abolition of the army’ of our generation”, the president-elect said, referring to the country’s dissolution of armed forces in 1948, a point of pride for Costa Ricans.

He will become the youngest president in Latin America, joining a cadre of world leaders elected under 40 and committed to a clean energy future, along with France’s Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern.

“This is a young president sending a clear signal to the country, particularly to the younger generations,” said economist Monica Araya, a leading advocate for electric mobility in Costa Rica.

Araya called for the new government to promote electric vehicles through public institutions’ purchases and to work with engaged citizens to create larger coalitions.

With a population of 5 million, the country has almost 100% low-carbon electricity and in 2017 managed to run for 300 days without using fossil fuels for power generation.

While other countries are phasing-out gas and diesel cars with a particular date in mind, the new government would rather improve metrics and then set targets, said Paola Vega, who coordinated the manifesto for the winning party.

In the campaign, Alvarado Quesada promised to modernize and electrify an old diesel train, to promote research and development in hydrogen and biofuels by transforming the state-owned oil refinery, and to sign a law banning oil and gas exploration in the country.

The exploration ban is straightforward, as there is no established oil industry, but transport poses a bigger challenge. Responsible for more than half (54%) of Costa Rica’s CO2 emissions, the sector is paradoxically profitable for this ecotourism destination.

A recent analysis revealed that one fifth of the government’s income comes from this sector, mostly from fuel taxes, sales taxes for new vehicles and property tributes.

“We must change the institutional framework,” said Vega, who was elected to congress. “Climate change needs policies coming from the presidential palace, not one single ministry.”

Last year, the Costa Rican Congress passed an incentive package to promote electric mobility, including lower taxes for EVs, more charging stations and a commitment to make parts of public institutions’ fleets oil-free.

Source: Climate Change News. Reproduced with permission.

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9 Comments
  1. George Darroch 1 year ago

    If a small poor country can do it, then we definitely should. This man puts Malcolm “Keep Burning Coal” Turnbull to shame.

    • Andy Saunders 1 year ago

      Banning a non-existent oil industry? Easy.

      Somehow getting 100% non-petroleum based transport? Not so easy.

      • Joe 1 year ago

        The test of doing something is not whether it is ‘Easy’ or ‘Hard’ to do. The ‘Easy’ option is always to do nothing or staying the same. The test is always doing what is right.

        • Andy Saunders 1 year ago

          I’m suspecting you’re not a politician…

          • MaxG 1 year ago

            🙂 I dare to say No, he isn’t it.
            Logical thinking combined with doing what is right for the people, has no leg to stand on in this country of ours.

    • MaxG 1 year ago

      “Poor” does not equate to stupid. We are presumable richer, but certainly dumber! … note my constant reminder: the fools are not at the helm without 47% of Aussies voting form them!

  2. MaxG 1 year ago

    Wait until the US assassinates the guy…

    • Calamity_Jean 1 year ago

      I hope that other screwups in the US government will distract the Powers That Be from going after him.

  3. The_Lorax 1 year ago

    I spent 10 days in Costa Rica in December and didn’t see a single EV. The traffic congestion is horrendous in central San Jose and the plastic pollution on the beaches is pretty awful. They have a long way to go.

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