While Western countries struggle to progress and find common ground on climate change, Costa Rica is quietly breaking records for renewable energy.
The Central American country of Costa Rica has broken its own renewable energy record by running for 300 days on green electric energy sources alone. The country broke its previous 2015 record of using only renewable energy for 299 days.
The Costa Rican Institute of Electricity also revealed that the country has achieved another 201 consecutive days of renewable energy starting from May 1, 2018. Costa Rica’s success comes as more developed western nations struggle over climate change issues and the United States’ withdrawal from the landmark Paris climate agreement.
Costa Rica generates 78 percent of its electricity from water sources, with wind and geothermal energy contributing another 10 percent of the country’s electricity. Solar energy and biomass together add 1 percent of electricity to the country’s grid.
Costa Rica’s success goes to show it is possible for a country to run its entire electrical grid on renewable energy sources without using coal or gas if they are committed to the effort. While Costa Rica’s electrical demands may not be comparable to the United States or other highly developed countries, its success could be replicated in elsewhere.
Dr. Monica Araya, the clean energy adviser for Costa Rica, emphasized that the 300 days of renewable energy only supplied power for electricity. Vehicles and home heating continued to run on gas and coal. Overall the country still derives about 70 percent of its energy consumption from oil.
Western Nations Struggle to Meet Renewable Energy Goals
The U.S. uses coal and natural gas for two-thirds of its energy needs. In 2016, the country used renewable energy to generate 15 percent of its power, and this increased to 18 percent in 2017. However, under the Trump administration, the U.S. pulled out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement entered into in 2017 by 195 countries in Paris, France — effectively freeing the county of any international obligations to alternative energy.
The Trump administration is attempting to repeal Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which required states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and largely focused on reducing emissions from coal-burning power plants. The repeal process will likely take two years to complete and may be challenged in courts.
In France, French President Emmanuel Macron attempted to address climate change by increasing a tax on diesel fuel which sparked protests across the country. The protests, known as the Yellow Vest Movement, sought to repeal the diesel fuel tax increase but also became a protest against the country’s rising cost of living.
Macron ultimately suspended the tax and promised to increase the minimum wage by €100 per month but also refused to reinstate a tax on the wealthy.
Meanwhile, Costa Rica quietly marches forward toward its goal of becoming the second carbon neutral country in the world (Bhutan was the first) by 2021.