Costa Rican Thinking.....

costa rica

I read this New York Times article ( http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/12/opinion/12friedman.html?_r=2&scp=2&sq=costa%20rica&st=cse ) online a while back that made quite the impression on me, and felt it worthy of my first Pidcock blog.

After reading the article I was blown away now knowing that somewhere on this earth, a government body had totally abandoned the ever-popular short sighted attitude toward energy and environmental conservation, and basically showed me the way things should be.

In the early 1990's after eventually realising the intrinsic and economic value of it's land and environment, the Costa Rican government took steps to ensure the future of it's country's resources and biodiversity.

Firstly, it eliminated the ever present bickering and back-and-forthing between the Minister for Energy and the Minister for the Environment by creating one new position. The Minister for Energy, Environment, Mines and Water.
The right candidate, one passionate about the protection of the countries natural resources, would ensure that all water, energy and mining decisions were made with the environments best interest in mind.

The right candidate was found, and more followed, and since the creation of the position the country of Costa Rica has achieved and made policy on the following:

  • "Costa Rica hugely invested in hydro-electric power, wind and geo-thermal, and today it gets more than 95 percent of its energy from these renewables. In 1985, it was 50 percent hydro, 50 percent oil" NYT
  • "Costa Rica discovered its own oil five years ago but decided to ban drilling - so as not to pollute its politics or environment" NYT
  • "In 1997 Costa Rica imposed a tax on carbon emissions  -  3.5 percent of the market value of fossil fuels  -  which goes into a national forest fund to pay indigenous communities for protecting the forests around them"NYT
  • "You have to pay for using nature. It is called "payment for environmental services" - nobody gets to treat climate, water, coral, fish and forests as free anymore."NYT
  • " Landowners who keep their forests intact and their rivers clean are to be paid, because the forests maintained the watersheds and kept the rivers free of silt  -  and that benefited dam owners, fishermen, farmers and eco-tour companies downstream. The forests also absorbed carbon"NYT
  • Basically there is a tax on using the environment for profit, and monetary benefits for those maintaining and preserving the environment. As a result Costa Rica has twice the amount of forest as it did 20 years ago

A little bit of forward thinking and a lot was achieved, all the while securing the economic future of the country.
It just goes to show you what can be achieved when a Government definitively decides on investing in a sustainable future for its country.

ben

1 comment for “Costa Rican Thinking.....”

BilB
Posted Sunday, August 14, 2011 at 6:01:43 AM

Whereas on the face of it the policy appears to be working, this is an approach that could go horribly wrong with a change of government and the "wrong" person in that amalgamated role, someone with predisposition for mining and fossil energy extraction. We have to be constantly mindful of the forces that created the Bolivian Water Crisis. Every country has its Toxic Tony (TA).

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