Costa Rica plans to become carbon neutral by 2021

Milagros Sandoval has written an interesting article titled “Costa Rica: un laboratorio de investigación para el mundo” in which she comments the progress of the country to mitigate climate change.  

Costa Rica’s great experiment with payments for ecosystem services helped restore millions of hectares of forest and shaped the nation into a laboratory for climate mitigation mechanisms. Costa Rica is now establishing a domestic carbon market with plans to link it to international markets in the future, all as part of its plan to become carbon neutral by 2021.

Costa Rica is 10 years ahead of the global community on this issue. Costa Rica had been working toward recovering forestland lost during the 1980s. A little over 20% of forest was remaining when the government began and now over 50% of the country is covered with green. Costa Rica has captured more than 90 million tons of carbon in recent years, but with no international compliance market to sell credits intoI, it’s using the reductions in-country to encourage a national market for buying and selling carbon credits among businesses, organizations and individuals. By 2021, it hopes to be a carbon-neutral nation.

Since several years ago, Costa Rica has launched initiatives to keep the promise. One of them was the establishment of BanC02 in October 2013, an environmental bank focused on climate change mitigation and low carbon development. The bank buys and sells carbon credits allowing people and companies to offset their GHG emissions.

The climate change is already being felt in Costa Rica and experts agree that there are a lot of solutions to mitigate it. Out of the range of possible conservation initiatives that could aid Costa Rica in mitigating climate change, Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) has proven itself as one of the most effective. It’s been functioning since 1997. Nearly a million hectares of forest has benefitted from Costa Rica’s PES program.

All of these initiatives are meant to achieve the same goal: namely, to reach a national carbon emissions amount of zero. And in 2013, the Voluntary Domestic Carbon Market was established as another initiative to help achieve this goal.

Any company or institution can become carbon neutral so long as their credits were approved by the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) or under Costa Rica’s domestic certification. As of this month, eight companies carry the label and four are on their way to get it.


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