Carbon credits and carbon neutrality in Costa Rica

The first acquisition of carbon credits from a forestry offset project was a trade between the World Bank Group and a reforestation project in Costa Rica owned by the Swiss group Precious Woods in 2006. The World Bank claims that it managed to counteract 100 per cent of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, equivalent to 22,000 megatons of CO2, produced by its Washington D.C. headquarters.[1]

Over the last 20 years, the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (MINAET) in Costa Rica claims that the country has expanded the area of forested land from 21 per cent to 51 per cent.[2] The country aims to be the first to achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2021. A study conducted by Yale University, however, finds this target to be very ambitious due to inaccuracies in government calculation and prediction.[3] Currently Costa Rica emits 12 megatons of CO2 per year with 75 per cent of this due to transportation.[4] Trends in Costa Rica’s development over the past few decades suggest that the country will produce more CO2 in 2021 than it can compensate for (16 megatons per year). This is because the demand on land for agriculture and residential purposes means that only a further 11 per cent of surface area is available for reforestation and this is not enough to sequester the predicted rise in emissions.[5] The Yale study suggests that to reach carbon neutrality, Costa Rica would need to reduce emissions directly by increasing usage of public transport and electric or hybrid cars, better urban planning and a more efficient energy sector.[6]

[1] Steven Ruddell, Michael Walsh and Murali Kanakasabai (2006) ‘Forest trading and marketing in the United States’, Society of American Foresters (SAF), (accessed 11 January 2011).
[2] Mike McDonald (18 September 2009) ‘Carbon neutrality is a stiff challenge’, Tico Times, San José.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.