New in sustainability: Costa Rice empowers tourists to travel sustainably

Costa Rica has installed nearly 200 semi-rapid and rapid electric charging stations around the country. While many of these are around the capital, San José, others are scattered in more remote areas, allowing tourists to sustainably access the country’s many beautiful destinations. 


Biodiversity in peril 

By geopolitical standards, Costa Rica is a tiny country, making up less than .03% of the Earth’s surface. That said, it contains around 6% of global biodiversity. From mountains and oceans to jungles and beaches, tourists from all over come to see the country’s many natural attractions.


Unfortunately, no matter how sustainably tourists may try to travel, they still leave an impact in their wake. In a region like Latin America which often lacks developed infrastructure, this impact is often even more pronounced. 


Before the pandemic, the small scenic town of Monteverde received more than 200,000 annual visitors. Due to a lack of options, many of them arrived to town in buses and SUVs, pumping out fumes along the way. This reality has led local climate activists to push for an alternative. 


A grassroots-led charge 

Ruta Eléctrica is a Latin American grassroots organization looking to encourage sustainable travel by reducing “range anxiety,” or the fear that an electric vehicle won’t be able to make it to its destination. 


While most electric charging networks require government support, Ruta Eléctrica has jumpstarted the process in Costa Rica. It has worked to promote several simple, low-tech solutions: online maps, accessible charging points, and reserved parking spots, to name a few. 


By checking Ruta Eléctrica’s website, you can ensure that you’ll make it to where you need to go with more than enough charge. These sorts of measures and resources help people to travel around Costa Rica without feeling guilty. 


Understanding the system 

Costa Rican and other Latin American environmentalists understand that it often isn’t locals clogging the roads—it’s tourists. Because of that, one of their primary missions is to support sustainable travel by encouraging rental car companies to make the switch. As of now, only a few companies offer electric options. 


Likewise, Ruta Eléctrica also understands that top-down climate measures can often harm those in isolated towns and communities. They don’t want businesses to have to worry about charging other people’s cars, especially since an electric vehicle often needs between 30 minutes to an hour for a full charge. So, they’ve started to encourage rental car companies to supply portable chargers. Then, provided a business offers plug points, they don’t need to do anything else.  .


A model worth emulating 

In addition to making the switch to electric cars, Costa Rica has been pioneering a path of environmental protection in myriad other ways. 


While most of its electricity already comes from renewable sources, the country has a solid decarbonization plan. It also banned deforestation in the late 90s and may place a moratorium on gas and oil later this year. 

However, Costa Rica is a small country, and its role in the climate crisis has been nothing more than a drop in the ocean. Hopefully, other larger countries like the United States that have had a more direct impact can soon implement similar measures.

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