During President Carlos Alvarado's inauguration speech last week, he announced to thousands of his supporters that his primary goal was to make Costa Rica the first country in the world to accomplish full decarbonization, saying it was the task of his generation. Alvarado is a 38-year-old former journalist, and he wants to ban fossil fuels in the country.
President Alvarado said that it's his generation's responsibility to make way for clean and renewable energies and to rid the country and world of the use of fossil fuels. He came to the inauguration speech riding in a hydrogen-fueled bus.
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The president said that by 2021 - Costa Rica's 200th birthday - the country will have ended fossil fuel use in transport if his plan is put into place. He said he wants Costa Rica to be able to move forward and celebrate their 200 years, proud of what they are doing for their country and world.
Already, Costa Rica uses renewable energy sources to generate nearly 100% of its electricity, but trying to have zero carbon transport is a challenge still. Jose Daniel Lara is a researcher at the University of California-Berkley and he said that to completely eliminate fossil fuels in just a few years is unrealistic. He believes it is a good plan for achieving the goal faster, but does not believe it can be easily done that quickly.
Oscar Echeverria is the president of the Vehicle and Machinery Importers Association and says that the country cannot transition from fossil fuels in transport that quickly because the clean transport alternative market is just underdeveloped. Mr. Echeverria said that a move too quickly could leave the country in the lurch without affordable and viable options.
However, others claim that Costa Rica focusing on getting rid of dependence on fossil fuels in transport shows the world a powerful message about their commitment, particularly when they've already nearly weaned off of fossil fuels as it is.
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Costa Rica has no gas or oil industry hemming over a push for clean energy, but car demand is on the rise and so experts warn that ensuring the power to fuel those cars is available will be key for the president when it comes to challenges.