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The Truth About Costa Rica

May 17, 2021

By Paul Homewood


A coffee plantation in Costa Rica

We in the West are often urged to be more like Costa Rica. It was only the other day that the UN’s Joyce Msuya declared that the country was a “superb example of what middle income countries can achieve”, with high levels of wellbeing, life expectancy and environmental protection.

Christiana Figueres, who comes from Costs Rica, is another who constantly bangs the drum, reminding us that it now gets virtually all of its electricity from renewable sources and has reversed deforestation.

In fact, things are not quite as simple as the pair of them make out. Let’s see some of the things Wikipedia have to say about the country:


The first thing to note is that, almost uniquely amongst Latin American states, Costa Rica has long had stable democracy. It is this, which above all other things, has built the base on which much else follows, including good health and education systems, and a strong economy:



Thanks to that stability, GDP per capita is by far the highest in the region, with the exception of Panama. In particular, that stability, coupled with low inflation, has encouraged substantial foreign investment, notably from the wicked United States, which now supports over 100,000 jobs, in a population of 5 million.

Thanks to this high GDP, Costa Rica can afford to run a high quality healthcare and education system, which in turn creates the next generation of skilled labour.



Costa Rica also depends heavily on tourism, which will largely disappear if Msuya and her chums succeed in doing away with air travel for the masses.



What about all of this wonderful renewable energy though?

Well, it turns out that the vast majority of it comes from hydro power. As is pointed out, Costa Rica is fortunate enough to have an abundance of waterfalls and tropical rainforests, something we don’t happen to have here! Another chunk comes from geothermal, which again is dependent on the availability of volcanoes. By contrast, wind and solar power contribute very little. Even the Costa Ricans seem to have worked out that weather dependent energy is a waste of time.




Far from the picture Msuya paints, Costa Rica is a relatively well off country with a high level of wellbeing, precisely because it has followed the western model of stable democracy and economic growth. Not because it has followed the path of so many other developing countries.

  1. Ron Arnett permalink
    May 17, 2021 12:34 pm

    Not to mention that becoming like Costa Rica would involve an decrease in stability for advanced western countries. It would also involve a decrease in the standard of living for advanced western countries. Ditto for public services.

    It is worth noting that the hundreds of thousands of supposed refugee claimants swarming the U.S. southern border chose to go to the distant U.S. border rather than the close by Costa Rican border.

    The people cited in the article would be the first to man the barricades to prevent more dams to generate more renewable hydro power, in any advanced society where it was feasible.

    As far as volcanic power, one volcanic eruption can ruin your day. If it is big enough, it can ruin your whole country’s day or even for decades.

    • May 17, 2021 12:55 pm

      Also because of those volcanos are related to subduction associated with a complex tectonic plate intersection it is subject to lots and lots of earthquakes. ( see attached) .
      The country has a population the size of Norway also!
      The country is really selling its self!

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      May 17, 2021 1:47 pm

      Not to mention that becoming like Costa Rica would involve an decrease in stability for advanced western countries. It would also involve a decrease in the standard of living for advanced western countries. Ditto for public services.

      Not sure I follow the reasoning here, Ron. Seems you’re saying that the first world is only prosperous and stable because the third world is not (not that I could agree that CR is third-world).

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        May 17, 2021 1:48 pm

        Belay that last comment….think I see where you were going: Assuming the first world became like the third world…

  2. May 17, 2021 12:47 pm

    Also not forgetting the latitude that Costa Ricans enjoy. This country has both tropical and sub tropical climates. No demand for heating OR house insulating. Of course there will be some usage of air-conditioning ( containing those naughty gases) ¨

    It never cease to be amazed by the infantile level at which information is disseminated by those who see themselves as our unelected controllers as if they take people mostly
    for uneducated fools blinded as they are themselves by political interests.

  3. Broadlands permalink
    May 17, 2021 12:53 pm

    Renewables don’t move many things with wheels. How do all the Costa Rican inhabitants and the many tourists get around? Where do their transportation fuels come from?

    • Sheri permalink
      May 17, 2021 2:00 pm

      It appears they use a lot of electric cars, though gas ones exist, too. It’s a very tiny country compared to the United States, which makes any comparisons completely invalid. The greens LOVE to use the complete lack of understanding of scale to sell their insanity. What works in a town of 200 does not often work in a town of 2 million. Yet greens do not care. Reality is to be ignored if inconvenient.

      • Sheri permalink
        May 19, 2021 12:19 pm


  4. May 17, 2021 1:34 pm

    It is remarkable that we haven’t heard about all the economic migrants from the surrounding poor states piling into Costa Rica!

  5. Adam Gallon permalink
    May 17, 2021 1:57 pm

    Costa Rica, diesel prices 0.74 Euros/litre.
    Most expensive in Latin America, apparently.
    Diesel’s the most used fuel for road transport.

  6. Cheshire Red permalink
    May 17, 2021 5:10 pm

    CR doesn’t have an army, either. That alone must save many billions that it can divert elsewhere.

  7. John Hultquist permalink
    May 17, 2021 5:43 pm

    Off topic:
    It is morning on the left coast of North America, and I just opened the May 17th edition of the Wall Street Journal. An 8 page Section R has the heading Climate Technology – – sub title is “Why we aren’t ready for the electrification of everything.”
    I have not yet read it.
    Lots of graphics, so eight pages is a stretch.

  8. May 17, 2021 6:57 pm

    Wikipedia says: ‘In May 2007, the Costa Rican government announced its intentions to become 100% carbon neutral by 2021.’

    Are the tourists arriving by electric plane yet?

    • May 17, 2021 7:59 pm

      No they are not arriving by electric plane. The government still has that goal but the deadline was moved back a bit, to 2080!

    • May 17, 2021 7:59 pm

      No they are not arriving by electric plane. The government still has that goal but the deadline was moved back a bit, to 2080!

    • Mack permalink
      May 17, 2021 8:21 pm

      Costa Rica has 4 international and 18 domestic airports apparently. I have a sneaking suspicion that none of the planes landing there are, or will ever be in our lifetimes, powered by ‘green’ energy.

      • Duker permalink
        May 18, 2021 6:05 am

        ‘Green’ energy will be an ever evolving definition…just like we are just being introduced to ‘blue hydrogen’, and we can guess what ‘blue’ means

    • Adam Gallon permalink
      May 18, 2021 9:25 am

      It’ll be the old fudge of selling “Carbon Credits”

  9. martinbrumby permalink
    May 17, 2021 8:16 pm

    OK, like a few countries, they may achieve 100% ruinable elecricity.
    That, however isn’t the claim.

    “100% Ruinable Energy by the end of the year.”

    So what’s powering transport?

    Diesel buses and shipping and petrol cars, when I was there last.

  10. Graeme No.3 permalink
    May 18, 2021 12:13 am

    Obviously the UK has to adopt the Costa Rican approach.
    Install a new mountain range for more hydro, a bit of tropical forests and above all a volcano.

    Where to install the last? I suggest somewhere in Scotland – the most anxious (and credulous) part of the UK – and somewhere the energy isn’t lost in transmission. How about Glasgow and have it erupting during that coming Conference?

  11. May 18, 2021 12:32 am

    I used to live in Central America for two years mainly Mexico and Panama City
    but I also volunteered with coffee farmer in Guatamala and then hobby farms in Costa Rica as I travelled overland.
    So I spoke to locals, they told me much of Costa Rica is a marketing myth, that has worked
    Also whilst most of the other countries had military coups that put tourists off Costa Rica benefitted from Gringo Tourist dollars
    but underneath it’s not that different from other Latin American countries
    eg they said “sure we don’t have an army, but the police have armoured personal carrier and gunboats’
    Also there were problems with crime in some areas. racial tension from poor blacks etc.
    Transport must use a lot of energy cos it’s very hilly.

    Also there appears to be a ruling class : Figures father was president for quite some time
    and the rest of the family had/have fingers in the pie.

  12. May 18, 2021 3:57 am

    I spent a lot of time in costa rica playing golf and tennis and a few other things. Once a year they have prostitute appreciation day when large numbers of prostitutes ride in trucks through the town with loud music and we throw flowers to them. But the reason I am writing is to thank Paul for the Msuya video that I used to write a critique about Woke Economics.

  13. Crowcatcher permalink
    May 18, 2021 8:53 am

    OT, a must see, the latest load of carp from England cricket captain Joe Root about playing cricket when the world gets “too hot” (BBC cricket website headline)

  14. dennisambler permalink
    May 18, 2021 2:28 pm

    As executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana
    Figueres was a major player in producing the Paris Agreement in December 2015.

    “Christiana Figueres & Adair Turner flag financial risks of climate change ahead of Paris
    She was dripping in Theresa May’s ear before her “enlightenment.

    AGW is the family business. She was involved in carbon trading before the UN job but was running the process at previous COP’s as chair of panels examining further financial commitments by developed nations. She was a colleague of Nick Stern at a trading advisory company called the Carbon Ratings Agency.

    Her brother Jose, a former President of Costa Rica, when his sister was his Agriculture Minister, also benefits from the AGW industry. He was involved in controversy in 2004,
    “Former Costa Rican President José María Figueres Olsen has resigned as chief executive officer of the World Economic Forum (WEF) after confirming that he received more than $900,000 for consulting services to the French telecommunications company Alcatel”
    He has also been a Director of the World Resources Institute (WRI), the Stockholm Environment Institute and WWF. Since 2010 he has been President of Branson’s Carbon War Room. From 2009 until 2011, Figueres served on Ban Ki-moon’s UN Advisory Group on Climate Change and Energy.

    Her estranged husband is Konrad von Ritter, a former World Bank apparatchick, before starting his WEnergy Global company, “your one-stop-shop-solution provider for customized renewable energy infra-structure.

  15. Tim Spence permalink
    May 18, 2021 4:07 pm

    On the Caribbean coast (Tortuguero) most of the transport is diesel powered boat, it’s a network of waterways and exuberant small islands, cars don’t go there. Can’t remember seeing any electric cars on the roads either when I was there.

    They’re reluctant to build a decent modern coast to coast road, the politicians are perhaps beholden to the main tourist spots and don’t want them bypassing.

    Driving along you seem to pass over a river every 300 yards but nothing of the size that would indicate Hydro power.

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