Costa Rica celebrated the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on Thursday with a variety of events exemplifying the country´s environmental commitment.
Kicking off the celebration was a panel discussion at the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) on renewable energy that included leaders in the field. Among the topics discussed was the country´s push for carbon neutrality in 2021, solar energy, efficient use of water and the push for Costa Rica to obtain 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources.
“Some countries in Europe obtain only 10 to 15 percent of their energy from renewable sources. But here, 90 percent of our energy is renewable energy,” said Teófilo de la Torre, who will be the environment and energy minister in the upcoming government of Laura Chinchilla. “Our goal is to have 100 percent of energy come from renewable sources, (and) reaching that goal will require contributions from everyone across the environmental sector”.
De la Torre went on to explain that limiting the use of oil for electricity, maximizing the energy-producing potential of wind and “large amounts of imagination” will be needed to reach the goal of 100 percent renewable energy. He also said that the anticipated financing needed –from both public and private sources – to reach that mark is estimated at $8 billion.
The panel also included Pedro León, coordinator of the Peace with Nature Initiative; Mike Forrest, general manager of Intel Costa Rica; Saul Kiersezenson, president of Clean Tech Cluster; Rodrigo Gamez, the president of INBIO; and Anne Andrew, the U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica.
A number of schools throughout the country were also honored on Earth Day for their environmental commitment. More than 300 elementary and high schools were awarded an “Ecological Blue Flag” for their efforts to protect the environment during the year. The flags were presented to the schools by the Education Ministry and the Costa Rican Electricity Institute.
Earth Day´s largest demonstration was held outside of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV), where hundreds of protestors rallied to protest the Las Crucitas open-pit gold mine (see related story).
“The fight for conservation, clean energy and carbon neutrality is one that will require effort over the next decade,” León said. “It´s going to take all of us.”