7 months ago

Climate Action 2009-2010

POLICY Osa Peninsula,

POLICY Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. Costa Rica’s commitment to climate: BECOMING CARBON NEUTRAL BY 2021 ECO-TOURISM 44 Jorge rodriguez Quiros, Minister of environMent, energy, and telecoMMunications of costa rica The world has fallen too far behind in the fight against global warming. Even though developed countries and the rapid growth economies of large developing countries have an important responsibility in addressing climate change and should act as soon as possible, this is no excuse for smaller countries not to play a part. Costa Rica has decided to act now and unilaterally by declaring a goal to become a climate neutral country by the year 2021, when it celebrates its bicentennial of its independence. WHY CLIMATE NEUTRALITY? Appropriate action has not yet been taken to tackle climate change, despite its devastating social, economic, and environmental consequences. Policies should be modified at the country and global levels in order to reverse the current carbon-intensive trends. To achieve different results, we must stop pursuing the same courses of action and become more than simple spectators. Business as usual and the status quo are not alternatives. Both at the national and international levels, the Costa Rican government has announced its commitment to transform Costa Rica into a leader in the battle against climate change. Climate change has been placed at the top of the government agenda by including it as a priority in instruments such as the National Development Plan, the Peace with Nature Presidential Initiative, and other specific guidelines that seek to enable and systemise actions oriented to face its threats and mitigate its impacts. THE NATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE STRATEGY (NCCS) The National Climate Change Strategy was designed after a careful analysis of economic, social, environmental, and political factors and their complex interactions. The NCCS, integrated into the Sustainable Development Strategy, develops two complimentary and equally important agendas: the National Agenda and the International Agenda. The National Agenda, with a clear orientation towards action, has been defined around six strategic axes or components, the main of which are Mitigation and Adaptation. The other four transversal components are: Metrics, Capacity Building and Technology Transfer, Education, Culture and Public Awareness and Financing. The International Agenda is also structured around six strategic components, of which the key message is: Exert international influence and attract foreign resources, Leadership, Legitimacy, Presence in multilateral and binational forums, and International capacity building are the other four components which, similar to the National Agenda, are transversal and complimentary within the Strategy. VISIT: WWW.CLIMATEACTIONPROGRAMME.ORG

POLICY NATIONAL AGENDA From a mitigation standpoint, Costa Rica is taking action to become carbon neutral (C-Neutral) while integrating the complex environmental, economic, human, social, moral, cultural, educational, and political issues involved in climate change, as well as enhancing national competitiveness. Cost reductions are being brought about through efficiency gains and technology as well as increased differentiation based on growing consumers’ awareness on global warming and preferences on goods and services with low carbon footprints (and eventually carbon neutral). Mitigation actions will include emissions reduction by source, carbon sinks enhancement through reforestation and natural forest regeneration, as well as avoided deforestation, and the development of carbon markets and the C-Neutral brand. The birth of C-Neutral products and services, companies, regions and communities, among other stakeholders, will provide incentives for action and an additional differentiation factor for the country and businesses’ competitive strategies. “‘Climate quality’ will become an important differentiator in the marketplace “ Costa Rica has historically devoted its electricity generation to clean, renewable sources such as hydro, geothermal, and wind power. In fact, 93 per cent of Costa Rica’s electricity generation comes from these sources. Thus, Costa Rica has a unique energy situation, as the larger share of greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector. In order to set the necessary frameworks to secure the transition towards cleaner, more efficient transportation mechanisms, the government is currently establishing various incentives for the acquisition of clean technology vehicles, such as a decree to reduce taxes on clean technology vehicles and batteries. However, policies may only be well implemented by jointly promoting the use of cleaner transportation mechanisms through the construction of large-scale projects such as an urban electric passenger train, which will save enough money through avoided oil importation to build one new hospital every two years. Financial tools will be created to cover the higher initial costs of cleaner technologies in order to ensure future savings, while an appropriate services platform, including battery recharge stations and adequate electric distribution facilities, will be built in order to support the success of such an ambitious project. In the agriculture and livestock sector, Costa Rica is currently working on various projects to calculate more tropicalised emissions indexes in crops, derived from IPCC standards, according to the country’s own climate conditions and crop management practices, in order to obtain more precise estimates for the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory submitted in compliance with the UNFCCC mandates. Methodologies are being developed to detect nitrous oxide emissions levels in coffee and banana plantations, as well as to directly measure methane emissions in livestock, in a measurable, reportable, and verifiable manner, in order to maintain international credibility with the results. These experiments are also designed to identify the best mitigation options, as various new generation low-emission fertilisation options are being handled and measured. From the carbon capture and carbon sinks enhancement perspective within the mitigation axis, Costa Rica is implementing a new tree planting campaign (“…A que sembrás un árbol”, a Spanish phrase which translates into English as “We dare you to plant a tree”). In 2007, Costa Rica planted more than five million trees, and in 2008, the figure rose to seven million, which translates into approximately 1.5 trees per capita. This turns Costa Rica into the nation with the highest percentage of planted trees per person in the world. Costa Rica has effectively managed to reverse the process of deforestation, allowing for a forest cover today that more than doubles that during the 1980s. Thus, Costa Rica today has more than 25 per cent of our national territory covered with protected forest areas, enhanced in part through conservation and sustainable forest management practices. Furthermore, we are currently developing and putting in practice a legal and institutional framework that promotes the protection and recovery of private forests through the payment for environmental services program (more than 700 thousand hectares), with which the conservation of biodiversity, scenic beauty, water resources, and carbon fixation are being recognised. This framework is based on the ‘polluter pays’ principle, by taxing fossil fuels and though an enormous fiscal sacrifice. Trends indicate that in the future, many consumers will prefer products and services that have a reduced carbon footprint and preferably zero climate impact (C-Neutral). ‘Climate quality’ will become an important differentiator in the marketplace. The Government is making joint efforts with various institutions, organisations, business and regions that have committed themselves to contributing towards a low carbon society, and has established the C-Neutral brand to officially encourage actions to reduce the carbon footprint in different socioeconomic sectors. Tourists will be able to fly to Costa Rica by compensating all emissions through a clean trip initiative, and companies will be able to promote their products, goods, and services, as ‘Made C-Neutral in Costa Rica’. For example, Expotur 2009, Central America’s main tourism trade market, became the country’s first carbon neutral fair by monitoring energy use, using climate friendly materials, compensating all emissions, and promoting the clean trip initiative among attendees. Furthermore, Costa Rica is participating in the National Economic, Environment and Development Studies (NEEDS) for Climate Change Project, which will allow us to identify, based on the evolution of greenhouse gas emissions determined through the Second National Communication, the necessary sectoral mitigation actions, associated costs and financial and investment fluxes, and institutional arrangements required to reach zero net emissions by the year 2021. In spite of these efforts, we recognise that our development, based on renewable sources, is very vulnerable to climate change. Costa Rica considers the ECO-TOURISM 45 VISIT: WWW.CLIMATEACTIONPROGRAMME.ORG