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Costa Rica offers lessons from using renewables to tackle climate change impacts

Faced with a population that has sent carbon emissions soaring and stretched power supplies to breaking point, oil-rich Nigeria is turning to renewable energy in tackling climate change, success stories from Costa Rica is a template Nigeria states can learn from.

Africa’s most populous country needs more than 10 times its current electricity output to generate supply for its 198 million people, nearly half of whom have no access at all, to achieve this the government must find an efficient way to bring power to rural communities and also help clean up a country with some of the world’s worst urban pollution rates.

One nation that inspires hope for the future is Costa Rica in Central America. With a population of 4.9 million, slightly less than Adamawa State, this country generates 99 per cent of its power from renewable energy, largely from hydroelectricity, wind and geothermal energy.

This supplies 1.5 million Costa Rican homes and about a quarter of a million businesses, with enough surplus energy to export to other countries. After decades of deforestation, the country’s forest cover has been increased to 53 per cent of the total land area and more regeneration of forests is planned.

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On New Year’s Day, Costa Rica’s National Grid announced that, for the first time, the amount of zero-carbon power generated was more than from fossil fuels for a full 12 months, making it the cleanest year on record for power generation.

This was achieved with a combination of wind farms, solar and nuclear energy, as well as energy imported by subsea interconnectors from neighbouring countries. This variety of power supplies added up to 48.5 per cent of Britain’s electricity in 2019, compared with 43 per cent generated by fossil fuels. The remaining 8.5 per cent of power was generated by biomass.

However, transport in Costa Rica remains a big problem. There are plans to improve public transport and make all buses, taxis and trains electric, with sales of all new light vehicles non-polluting by 2050. In recognition of these achievements and goals for the future, Costa Rica was named UN Champion of the Earth last year.

Of course, it could be argued that Costa Rica’s efforts to combat climate change have little impact because it is a small nation and well endowed with natural resources. Yet its pointing to other countries like Nigeria ways to achieve cleaner energy.

Nigeria is endowed with huge energy resources, yet it perennially suffers energy poverty. Also, the reliance on fossil fuel to meet Nigeria’s energy need has been attended with many problems such as physical deterioration of energy transmission and distribution facilities, inadequate metering system, inadequate generation capacity, deforestation, desertification, erosion and a host of other environmental problems.

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