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Costa Rica opens UN climate meeting with call for concrete actions

December 3, 2019

Representatives from dozens of countries, including Costa Rica, are in Spain this week for the 2019 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as COP25.

Among the leaders is Costa Rica’s president, Carlos Alvarado, who spoke Monday during the Climate Vulnerability Forum, which convenes countries that may be disproportionately affected by climate change.

“When we assumed the organization of PreCOP25, last October, we did it with a simple and strong conviction: when facing the climate crisis — the biggest challenge we face today — conventional responses are not acceptable and will not be enough,” President Alvarado said.

“All vulnerable countries have to fight for what is right. We are responsible for defining the next milestones in climate action and leading the way in which this transformation will happen.”

Among the participants at the meeting was Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, who said the world is “blessed” by Costa Rica’s response to the climate crisis.

The forum also featured Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations; Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh; Juan Orlando Hernández, President of Honduras; and Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

In line with previous speeches on climate action, President Alvarado touted Costa Rica’s successes while explaining that an environmentally progressive economy can be a profitable one.

“We are a small country but with great environmental ambition,” he said. “We have managed to reverse deforestation and today we produce more than 98% of our electricity from renewable energy sources.

“After the launch of our National Decarbonization Plan, studies have allowed us to know that the country will obtain a net profit of $19.5 billion making the changes indicated in this route. The fundamental point is clear: environmental ambition is not only ethically correct, but profitable.”

Within Costa Rica, however, critics point to the country’s issues with waste management and its heavy use of agrochemicals as evidence of how far the nation has to go in order to achieve its green ideals.

The COP25 meetings, organized by Chile and Spain, will end on Dec. 13. Costa Rica hosted the pre-COP25 meetings in October.

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