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Costa Rica and France team up against climate change

February 20, 2009

France´s Chief Negotiator for Climate Change, Brice Lalonde, is in Costa Rica this week discussing ways France and Costa Rica can cooperate in the fight against climate change.

Lalonde has been accompanying Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Minister Roberto Dobles, and met with President Oscar Arias Monday afternoon.

He was then scheduled to sign an agreement for France to cooperate with Costa Rica in combating climate change, as well as receive help from Costa Rica on French initiatives. Both countries also agree to work together on international climate change projects and in negotiating a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol, under which nations agreed to a series of measures to reduce the production of greenhouse gasses, expires in 2012.

“France is a world leader in the area of climate change. We want to see what their experience has been and share our experience in what we have been doing, and see how to move into implementation,” said Lidieth Carballo, who oversees the National Climate Change Strategy at the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Ministry (MINAET).

“What we need to do is go from paper to action,” she said.

Lalonde met Monday morning with representatives of businesses in Costa Rica that have acted to lessen their environmental impacts.

Rudy Amador, the director for environmental and food safety affairs for Dole Fresh Fruit International, said that Dole, one of the world´s largest producers of bananas, pineapples and other fruits and vegetables, has launched a series of initiatives to cut down their greenhouse gas emissions.

These programs include training thousands of employees in energy efficient practices, improving refrigerated containers to use less energy and working to reduce the use of fertilizers.

Ivan Hernández, the director of human resources at Tabacón, a resort and spa based around hot springs at the foot of the Arenal Volcano, in northwestern Costa Rica, said his company has compiled an inventory of all the greenhouse gasses emitted from its operations, including the transportation of tourists and company trips.

The company is now working to reduce what emissions it can, and compensating the rest through reforestation and conservation of existing forests, Hernández said.

Like Hernández, many companies in Costa Rica are measuring their emissions with help from MINAET, and trying to balance out their emissions by paying to reforest land or conserve existing forest.

Trees capture and store carbon dioxide, one of the prime culprits believed to be causing global climate change.

“We help (businesses) do it. We offer a lot of things, such as aid in developing a (greenhouse gas emissions) measurement system so those systems are measurable, reportable and internationally recognizable,” said Environment Minister Roberto Dobles.

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