There’s also the fact that Costa Rica, like Iceland, isn’t a 100 percent fossil fuel free nation. Its electricity supply more or less is, but its energy supply isn't. This covers other forms of power production, such as that used by transportation. As reported by Vox, the nation still has one million cars running on “outdated” hydrocarbons, and as a result, imported oil supplies over half the nation’s energy demands.
If anything, this illustrates just how much of a barrier transportation is to the clean energy revolution. Although many nations around the world are switching their electricity grids to become more environmentally sustainable, fueling transportation and construction will remain giant elephants in the room for some time.
Ultimately, Costa Rica (as of 2014) produces 7.8 million tonnes (8.6 million tons) of carbon emissions per year. Nearby Brazil produces 65 times that, and the US emits 713 times more. China is ahead of the pack by far, generating 1,241 times the carbon emissions as Costa Rica.
Overall, then, Costa Rica’s low-carbon achievements seem small. However, they set a good example of where a nation’s priorities should be, and as data demonstrates, the world is trying to follow along.
In 1960, 2.7 percent of the world was powered by nuclear or renewable energy. In 2013, that was up to 8.6 percent. Fossil fuel energy consumption has dropped from 94 to 81 percent in the same time. Make no mistake, we are heading in the right direction. The question, of course, is – are we doing it fast enough to change the future?
Comparing Costa Rica to some other notable countries with varying carbon footprints, measured in megatonnes of carbon dioxide, circa 2014. Global Carbon Atlas