Two Soulmates

During one of the panels at COP24 in Katowice I heard a speaker talk about Costa Rica and New Zealand as “soulmates”, for being “small countries with great ideas”. 


New Zealand Profile:

Photo by Casey Horner, Unsplash.
  • Area: 268,838 km2
  • Population: 4,545,627
  • GDP Per Capita: $39,000
  • Human Development Index: 0.917
  • Per Capita CO2 Emissions: 7.69 metric tons

Costa Rica Profile:

Photo by Nick Dietrich, Unsplash.
  • Area: 51,100 km2
  • Population: 4,987,142
  • GDP Per Capita: $16,900
  • Human Development Index: 0.794
  • Per Capita CO2 Emissions: 1.63 metric tons
New Zealand TPES, from IEA. 
Costa Rica TPES, from IEA.

New Zealand and Costa Rica are interesting cases when we talk about energy transitions. 

Today, New Zealand produces 80% of its electricity from renewable sources, and has a target to produce 100% by 2035. Besides, New Zealand plans to be carbon neutral (that is, have 0 carbon emissions) by 2050.

New Zealand is also one of the founders of the Past Coal Alliance during COP23 last year, where countries committed to completely phase out coal from their energy production. Also, the country has recently passed a law banning offshore oil and gas exploitation. 

For the transition to a decarbonized economy to be fair, New Zealand has government programs incentivizing the production of hydrogen fuels from geothermal energy in regions where oil and gas are extracted.

For Costa Rica, the country with no army, the energy transition is a feasible challenge. Four steps have paved the path for this to happen.

Listen to Costa Rican Christiana Figueres describe the Paris Agreement

In 2002 the country got a moratorium on oil exploitation and exploration, which was extended until 2021, year in which the country plans to become carbon neutral. Some years later, in 2013, China wanted to build an oil refinery in Costa Rica, which after much popular protest, the country rejected. Costa Rica has also developed its 2050 Decarbonization Strategy, with the goal of com.

The greatest challenge for Costa Rica, as well as for New Zealand, relies on the transportation sector. Both countries are trying to achieve 100% renewable energy generation, and pair this achievement with a great deployment of electric vehicles. 

“You cannot continue to optimize the wrong industries” – Monica Araya at COP23


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