Photo via Samapan
It's not easy being carbon neutral--that's what the world's most exclusive carbon-cutting club is finding out fast. Only three countries have pledged to become entirely carbon neutral: Costa Rica, the Maldives, and Norway. They may not have much in common geographically, in government, or even socially--but they're all looking for ways to cut their carbon use to nil. And fast.As it is, the countries have quite a task ahead of them. Costa Rica wants to be carbon neutral by 2021, Maldives by 2020, and Norway by 2030. That's not a lot of time. According to Reuters, "greenhouse gas emissions in Norway are 7 percent above its 2012 target under the Kyoto Protocol, while emissions are rising in Costa Rica, especially in the transport sector." And the island nation of Maldives may have it even worse:
the Maldives' plan to be a tropical showcase for solar and wind power in the Indian Ocean, shifting from dependence on costly diesel, will need an estimated $1.1 billion in investments over a decade for its 310,000 people.Since being a carbon neutral nation requires that a severely limited amount of emissions-generating cars can be on the road at any given time, huge adjustments must be made in transportation options.
And then there's the pesky fact that Norway is the world's 5th biggest oil exporter to account for. But the nations are proceeding according to plan, despite the setbacks:
Norway and Costa Rica have a head start because they already generate almost all electricity from clean hydropower. The Maldives, worried that rising sea levels could swamp coral atolls, hope to be a testing ground for green technology.Norway's government also has a huge bankroll saved up to help offset emissions and fund clean energy projects. And, according to Reuters, "A plan for the Maldives foresees investments of $110 million a year over a decade in solar and wind power -- reckoning that savings on diesel imports would quickly repay investments."
So there are indeed ways forward--and as investment in clean energy rises over coming years, the path will no doubt get less bumpy. Each of these three nations deserves major kudos for making a go of it at all.
More on Carbon Neutral Nations
Costa Rica Plants 5 Million Trees to Combat Climate Change
Maldives Holds Underwater Cabinet Meeting To Bring Attention to Climate Change
Norway Pledges to Be Carbon Neutral by 2030