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Costa Rica joins New Zealand and others in unique commercial-climate initiative

September 30, 2019

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Wednesday a unique commercial-climate initiative that seeks to eliminate tariffs on green technology and end fossil fuel subsidies.

The initiative was announced last week at the United Nations alongside the prime ministers of Fiji, Iceland and Norway, and the vice minister of foreign trade of Costa Rica.

Formal talks are expected to begin next year with the hope that the project will eventually acquire international treaty status.

“There is an urgent and critical need for greater global action if we want to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels,” Ardern said in announcing the plan, christened “Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability.”

Ardern said the strategy of using trade rules to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies was particularly convincing.

“Globally, we subsidize the production and consumption of fossil fuel by more than $500 billion a year,” she said. “That is what our inconsistency with policies amounts to.”

At the moment, the details of the agreement are lacking, but it is expected that once implemented, it would withdraw tariffs on products such as wind generators and solar panels, in addition to developing directives for product labeling.

With a combined population of 20 million inhabitants, Ardern said the size of these five countries allows them to act quickly, in line with the urgency of the situation, and that she expects other nations to join them.

The Prime Minister has said in the past that New Zealand will expand its commitment to the Paris Agreement next year. The country set itself the goal of reaching zero carbon emissions by 2050, something that 64 other countries have also promised.

New Zealand, with a population just below five million inhabitants, has also committed to a transition to 100% renewable energy by 2035.

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