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Study Weighs Environment Plans

February 5, 2010

An analysis by an independent, nonprofit Costa Rican environmental group, CO2  Neutral 2021, scored Citizen Action Party (PAC) presidential candidate Ottón Solís higher than all of his contenders in environmental matters.

The study, which gauged candidates’ environmental platforms, awarded Solís 70 of the available 100 points. Solís earned high marks in urban transportation, land use, biodiversity and reforestation, some of the 12 categories included in the study.

Laura Chinchilla, of the National Liberation Party (PLN) and frontrunner in the presidential race which ends with elections Sunday, came in third with her environmental promises – behind the Broad Front Party – garnering 44 points. She earned the most points for her proposals dealing with industrial pollution and wastewater treatment.

Otto Guevara, of the Libertarian Movement Party (ML), followed Chinchilla with 40 points. He received high scores for his pledges to ensure available, clean water for all.

The study’s 12 categories were weighted and broken into 25 indicators, similar to Yale and ColumbiaUniversity’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI), which was released last week. That index ranked Costa Rica third out of 163 nations.

CO2 Neutral 2021’s analysis gave the greatest weight to categories related to climate change, such as the transportation and agriculture sectors.

The two transportation indicators listed in the study methodology accounted for 19 percent of the weight, more than any other indicator. All together, the indicators listed under the five climate change categories totaled more than 50 percent of the evaluation. Some of those indicators were correlated with those in other categories.

The analysis concluded that none of the candidates’ platforms contain specific political actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the livestock, refrigeration and cement sectors, which account for 26 percent of Costa Rica’s total annual emissions, according to the group.

Luis Fishman, of the Social Christian Unity Party (Unity), scored 31 points. The National Renovation Party and the Access Without Exclusion Party came in last with 8 and 7 points, respectively.

 

How the Analysis Worked

 

In order to weigh the environmental proposals of each party, a team of six analysts read through all the sections in the government plans that the candidates have published on their Web sites. Since presidential hopefuls usually vet the feasibility of their plans and test each one for consensus within their own party before publishing the proposals, the group decided the best way to evaluate political “green” standards would be to identify the environmental wording in each party’s government plan.

The group highlighted the proposals under all sections of each would-be executive agenda that impacted the environment.

In total, the team found 1,293 proposals in the seven political plans they examined – PAC containing the most, with 348 – that affected the environment and natural resources.

Once identified, the six members of the team analyzed the plans to determine the strength of each proposal.

“We were looking for verbs,” said Roberto Jiménez, founder of CO2 Neutral 2021.

“When you read these plans, you find out that some parties have more action and more verbs and others have fewer. Then we had to determine if these actions were good actions, quality actions. Saying ‘I will build a train’ is a lot stronger than saying ‘I will study the possibility of building a train’, so you have to give those two a different weight.”

Weak proposals – those that contained verbs such as “evaluate” or “study” – received one point. Those that contained stronger verbs – such as “build” and “improve” – received three points. No proposal received zero points.

The group also scoured the government plans for ideas that were completely impractical, but Jiménez said that the group determined that all the candidates could accomplish each of the promises they made in writing.

To see more details about the study and to download the spreadsheet with the methodology and percentages, visit www.voteporelambiente.info and click on “Ranquin.”

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