The Emmy Awards may have had the TV industry abuzz Sunday night, but the real prize won’t be handed out until Wednesday. That’s when the United Nations crowns one country it’s Champion of the Earth, which is the UN’s highest environmental honor.

Prior to the first panel, Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado spoke with Harrison Ford, Vice-President of Conservation International about Costa Rica’s achievements that without a doubt is an example for the rest of the world.

This year’s champion? Costa Rica, the country that is doing the most to combat climate change and winning what is basically a fight for our future.

Costa Rica’s President Carlos Alvarado, was on Monday the first speaker of the opening ceremony of the Climate Week in New York, where he presented the actions promoted by Costa Rica from the productive, private and public sectors to face climate change and to decarbonize its economy by 2050, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and the UN’s’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Costa Rica’s energy is already more than 95% renewable. In 2017, the country ran for a record 300 days solely on renewable power, and the goal is to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2030.

 

Opening ceremony of Climate Week NYC at The Times Center, Monday, September 23, 2019

Alvarado explained that the transformation of the economy is the main route to face climate change, which must be based on a strong private public alliance in all countries and at the hands of the scientific community. 

In what is considered a defining moment for the planet, the forum brings together the most influential political and economic leaders in the world to study and take action around the challenge of climate change, within the framework of the Climate Action Summit convened by the Secretariat United Nations General.

Climate Week, organized The Climate Group, a non-governmental organization whose main objective is the acceleration of actions to limit the increase in the Earth’s temperature no more than 1.5 ° C, through the impulse of the use of renewable energies and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, runs from September 23 to 29.

The event hopes to provide a platform for governments and productive companies to evaluate how to increase their contribution in the fight against climate change and share the actions they will be promoting, in order to motivate other leaders.

Costa Rica’s part

Trees are a key element of Costa Rica’s plan to soak up any lingering carbon emissions. An aggressive push to reverse decades of deforestation, Costa Rica has restored more than 50% of trees.

By 2030, almost three quarters (70%) of all buses and taxis are expected to be electric, with full electrification projected for 2050, all part the country’s plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, including reforms to transportation, energy, waste, and land use to help the country make sure it releases no more carbon emissions than it can offset.

All this, even though the country of five million people only produces about 0.4% of the world’s global emissions.

“The great task of our generation is decarbonization and Costa Rica should be among the first to achieve it, if not the first,” Alvarado said Monday morning at the opening of the forum at the Times Center, motivating other world leaders in the public sector and deprived of increasing its contribution to the threat of a planetary catastrophe, announced by the international scientific community.

In his 8-minute address, President Alvarado reaffirmed Costa Rica’s commitment to the planet to decarbonize the economy to improve people’s lives, in reference to the 2018-2050 National Decarbonization Plan, launched last February.

“Receiving the Champions of the Earth award on behalf of Costa Rica, its entire population, the past generations who protected the environment, and future generations fills me with pride and emotion for what Costa Rica has achieved and for what we can continue to do because we can achieve even more,” said Costa Rica’s president, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, in a press release. “I feel very proud to be Costa Rican.”