Carbon neutral economics comes to Costa Rica

By Eric Robinson

No one has brought global warming to the forefront like former US Vice President Al Gore. Though the conservatives love to bash Al Gore for being a hypocrite, causing twenty times the global warming (if there is such a thing) as the average consumer, I think they are shooting the messenger, and avoiding the real problem.

CO2, and other gas emissions, say the vast majority of scientists, create a sort of green house effect hindering the heat of the sun’s powerful rays from escaping the lower atmosphere, heating the earth, melting the polar ice caps causing the oceans to rise and also causing deserts to expand.

If we discount the scientists and believe the politicians and big business that global warming is not caused by mankind, we may end up too late to stop the devastating effects. If we believe the scientists, and start now to correct the problem, and later we find the politicians were correct, we end up with a cleaner, yet, more expensive planet. I vouch for the second option.

One of Mr.Gore’s ways of nullifying and excusing his personal consumption was by making ‘carbon neutral’ payments, payments that would go to land owners to either replant forests, or leave existing forests alone.

Last week, officials from the Costa Rican National Forest Financing Fund (FONAFIFO) announced an agreement with governmental tourism agencies ICT and CANATUR, the public launch of ‘Clean Trip’, a program that will help visitors to Costa Rica offset their carbon emisions from their travels to and from Costa Rica.

Though their website, www.fonafifo.com has yet to add this new development, it promises to offer an online calculator to help you determine the number of tons of carbon produced during your travels.

Each ton of carbon produced (New York to San Jose for example produces approximately three tons for person), costs $5 to offset, at current market value. Multiply each ton by $5, and as of October 1st, Costa Rica’s Banco Nacional will accept credit card payments, and all money is given to the FONAFIFO Payment for Environmental Services Program, who in turn pay private citizens and businesses $320 per hectare over five years to protect existing forests, or $816 per hactare over ten years to plant new ones.

So far 530,000 hectares are already protected under FONAFIFO, with a waiting list of many more land owners wanting to sign up, but budget constraints have limited their participation. With the new ‘Clean Trip’ program, many more properties are expected to be able to join, helping to clean everyone’s air.

Information booths in Costa Rican airports and tourist centers will be set up, and tourists can do their part to protect what they have come to experience here in Costa Rica.

As more info comes in, because this is so new, I’ll make it available on this blog so you can donate if you wish. Every little bit helps!

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