Framework assembled to track carbon footprints

The country is slowly assembling the framework to support plans for a carbon neutral  declaration by 2021.

The latest development is the selection of a California firm to verify carbon footprints. The firm is SCS Global Services, and it said in a news release that it will verify the measurement of private and public sector entities’ carbon footprints to help the government evaluate policies for emissions reduction.

So far participation in the government’s carbon neutral campaign is voluntary, but the SCS release suggests there might be some compulsion in the future. Said the firm:

“Costa Rica is one of six nations that have signed commitments to achieve carbon neutrality. To meet the commitment, it is necessary to measure emissions from industry, transportation, energy production, and other sources, promote policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), and use carbon offsets to counter emissions that cannot otherwise be mitigated.

“Public entities and private companies are required to measure their carbon footprints and have these calculations verified by an accredited independent third-party auditing body to ensure that their greenhouse gas emissions are being reported accurately and uniformly. The Costa Rican government will sell Costa Rican offset units to reporting entities that have measured their GHG inventories and have demonstrated efforts to reduce emissions.”

Costa Rica already has a long-standing 3.5 percent tax on fossil fuels to benefit forestry.

The 2009 national climate change strategy cited assigning value to carbon and a tax as one proposal that had been advanced in Europe. Still, the climate change strategy is based on education and voluntary compliance.

There has been a voluntary program directed at the public called Limpia tu huella under the direction of the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía. There is no tax involved.

So far business and industry are urged to participate in a certification program for public relations and marketing purposes. Reducing release of carbon might also save money. The Cámera Nacional de Turismo is a proponent.

Costa Rica’s accrediting entity, the Ente Costarricense de Acreditacion, has approved SCS to verify companies as carbon neutral if they achieve zero net emissions through a combination of emissions reductions and purchase of offset credits, the firm said.”Assuring the accurate measurement of carbon emissions is crucial to helping Costa Rica achieve
its carbon neutrality goals,” said Robert J. Hrubes, executive vice president of SCS, in the release. “As one of the world’s most experienced companies in third-party environmental certification and verification, we look forward to bringing our experience to Costa Rica’s groundbreaking carbon neutrality program.”

Costa Rica has long been recognized as a world leader in its efforts to conserve natural resources, said the firm.

A.M. Costa Rica reported a month ago that the country will get $3 million from a World Bank agency to set up a domestic carbon trading market. The World Bank through its Partnership for Market Readiness is defining the structure for a carbon trading scheme to offset carbon emissions.

René Castro, the environment minister was reported then to have said that the carbon credits are an instrument for voluntary goals.

A carbon credit is generally considered to represent a ton of carbon dioxide. Already there are private firms here offering carbon credits, usually in a program linked to reforestation.

Being carbon neutral is not cheap for a firm. The Ente Costarricense de Acreditación based in Rohrmoser, now charges $468 just for applying and $703 for an annual renewal.  That is in addition to the cost of experts who come to a business to study the carbon footprint and the mitigation.

Proponents of carbon neutrality say that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is one of the causes of world temperature rise.

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