“International and Environmental Activism” - Luis Paulino Mora

“International and Environmental Activism” - Luis Paulino Mora

Dr. Carlos Iafigliola: We will now invite who accompanies us from Costa Rica, Mr. Luis Paulino Mora, vice minister of the presidency of legislative and political issues from Costa Rica, you have the floor.

Thank you, Mr. Moderator.

First of all, I would like to make a clarification. There is a small error in program with the title of the lecture; the title is International Activism and the Environment. Part of it stems from the fact that I did not know I had to present a lecture until yesterday when they told me and that we had to quickly prepare, but I had enough time to prepare this three-hour lecture that I was going to give, but before my present friend here has a 58seconds___________, we will reduce it to 10 minutes. Basically, the lecture has to do with what we have been doing here in Costa Rica in the last times here in Costa Rica over the matter of the environment; it reads:

Since the story of mankind is charged with high divisive components of the most varied kind from politics, economics, social, and geographic, amongst others, the truth is that such decisions are a mere fiction product of the human creation. Globalization, without a doubt, has given us a high dose of reality which has also come to cast a shadow of doubt on the functionality of the borders, not only of commercial material, as traditionally assumed, but above all on the aspect of the environment; and it’s that the evidence is obvious, for example, how the melting polar ice caps phenomenon that occurs at 10,600 kilometers from Punta Arenas, Costa Rica; in the case of the North Pole, it has and will have negative repercussion for the coastline of this city, of about 400 meters which makes it vulnerable to the rising sea level. I highlight this example, only as an illustration, has been created by mankind and different states that, daily, promote subscribing to international agreements in matters of cooperation and environmental conservation. By luck, this has not stayed in a regional plan only and has transcended further as it occurred recently with the Paris Agreement which concurred with signatures from 197 parties; in Costa Rica it has been approved in the second debate, recently; you missed it my esteemed friend Rony; this Paris Agreement seeks strategic actions to palliate and reduce the effects of climate change, especially in that geographic zone of the planet that could be affected with great ease. Precisely, a number of studies identify the Central American Isthmus as a region particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change; in this sense, in Chapter 27 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report indicates that in the last 30 years, evidence has been accumulating that in the tropical region of Central America, is the most sensitive to this phenomenon with a steady increase of extreme events such as storms, floods, and droughts. This has the potential of severely affecting Costa Rica because diverse circumstances, such as its geographic situation in the intertropical zone, and in the middle of an ocean and sea, its young geological age formation, and its geography of plains and mountains, make it a highly vulnerable territory to natural events.

A World Bank study from 2015 sites Costa Rica amongst one of the leading countries exposed to multiple natural threats. The study reveals that 38.6 of the national territory is under this threat.; 77.9 of the population and 80.1 of the GDP population find themselves in exposed areas of three or more natural threats. The Paris Agreement constitutes an international community response to the awareness of the urgent and potentially irreversible threat climate change represents for human societies and the planet that requires an urgent action from all parties, and that the global character of climate change demands the most wide cooperation possible of all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response with sights set on accelerating the reduction of global emission of greenhouse gases. All this based on equity and common responsibilities, but differentiated and with respective capacities of the parties. It constitutes as well, the response to the call of all developing countries, which are the most affected by the negative impacts of climate change, to place the theme of adaptation at the same level of importance as mitigation, and to strengthen the cooperation with sights set on increasing the capacity of developing countries of mitigating the emission of greenhouse gases and to adapt the effects of climate change, amongst others.

In summary, the agreement reflects the existing interest amongst countries to unlink CO2 emissions from the economic growth process and promote a political and economic relationship that, at the same time, respects the principles of sustainable development.

In addition, I present an opportunity so that our country joins in an effective manner in the cooperation policy that will be promoted around the implementation of the agreement taking into consideration our national priorities and the resources available.

To add to this, it has also been prescribed to the agreement between the governments of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the United States over environmental cooperation pending on a decision on a first debate in the legislative assembly of Costa Rica, which seeks to facilitate joining the territory of the state parties by technical personnel in the environmental field, so that they can carry out environmental conservation studies and tasks, and the repair of eventual damages that would have been caused. For the transcendence and transversally of the environmental topic, Costa Rica has decided to bet strongly since 1949, with the creation of the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity, of the generation of energy based on renewable sources, which not only has allowed us as a country to not emit CO2,  product of this activity, but to have the cheapest electricity in Central America according to CEPAL (Comision Economica para la America Latina). As part of this conviction this past September 16th, Reventazon hydroelectric power plant was inaugurated, the second largest and most important engineered creation of Central America, after the Panama Canal. This hydroelectric plant was designed and created by 100% Costa Rican talent and human capacity, what the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity counts on (ICE). With its operation entry, you can secure the energy supply for about 550 thousand homes and the energy independence of the country until 2025.

Until today, October 5, 2016, Costa Rica has had 182 consecutive days of supplying all national electric energy demand generated only by renewable sources and clean processes without CO2 emission. An act that deserves to be highlighted is that since 2015 was the second most dry year in the history of Costa Rica, according to the National Meteorology Institute, our energy matrix was capable of generating 98.99 % of clean source energy, which entails a significant reduction of 89.64 % in the amount of thermal energy that Costa Rica required last year.

In this line of thought it is worth bringing up data on the energy matrix and Costa Rica for 2015, of which thermal energy represented only 1.01 percent, while the rest, in descending order, was distributed in the following way: 75.29% hydraulic; 12.84 geothermal; 10.08 wind power; 0.77 biomass; and 0.01 solar.

The decarbonization of the world economy and particularly ours, is a step closer in the right direction in which the world and Costa Rica are contestants. Just as it is known that the Paris Agreement is a framework convene and, as such, it should be developed through the international law instruments, like the Kyoto Protocol and its doja amendment, which by way of internal legislation and strategic and administrative actions, catered to the reduction of the carbon footprint of the country.

I would also like to highlight efforts undertaken from the executive and legislative Costa Rican powers for providing our country a modern train passenger system since, in all reality, the locomotors with which the Costa Rican Institution of Railroads counts on, date back to 1979 and 1983; in fact,  there are no replacement parts and we must search from trucks; which use diesel as the only fuel and though they may continue to contaminate a lot less than the vehicular fleet necessary to move about 4 million people annually, it can no longer constitute a comfort zone that distracts us from our goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2021.

Also, the positive impact of having a modern and rapid massive passenger transport system goes beyond the railroads because of the reduction of vehicular traffic which is, without a doubt, an element that must be taken to account as an improvement factor in the circulation and, therefore, in reduction in the annual oil bill.

In this same line, it is fitting to highlight the efforts of the Public Works and Transport Ministry to eliminate the bottlenecks in the main transit roads of the country which cause multiple jams, like the process to sectorize the bus routes from the zones with the most number of surrounding people. Currently, there are city zones, like east of the capital where there are up to five different bus routes that operate for various places that are not even three kilometers apart.  Despite a detailed series of accomplishments and commitments of Costa Rica as a state, I must also recognize the contributions and the participation of the Costa Rican civil society. In Costa Rica, for example, there exists the natural resource surveillance committees or COVIRENAS, which are environmental inspector’s ad honorem who are prescribed before the ministry of the environment and energy without mediating a single interest beyond nature’s protection. Periodically, they leave from the comfort zones the private sectors propose, directly to enter the different forests and mountains of the country to prevent the natural resources from being threatened by human actions. This occasion of which I speak of is anchored in the profound and solid fact of being Costa Rican. It is so that school age children concretely from the humble school barrio Limoncito Limon, one of the provinces possibly with the least social development in our country, proposed a project before the legislative assembly through the popular mechanism initiative, that today is one more law of the republic, to declare the manatee as a national symbol of marine life. These acts that I mention should not provoke another emotion within us different from inspiration; inspiration to continue fighting, and not fail all those people, but especially all those persons that begin to take their first steps through the paths of life or those that still have not done so.

The challenge is great and the motivations that we must not faint are even greater.

Thank you very much for this space for presenting a bit about the objectives and projects that we are developing in Costa Rica regarding the environment.

Thank you.