Roadmap C.R. 2021

In 2007, the Government of Costa Rica announced plans to become the first carbon neutral country in the world by 2021 (the year in which the country will commemorate 200 years of independence). In order to assess the initiatives currently in place and those that will be required to attain this goal, A 01 and OMA-AMO propose to collaborate with local partners in Costa Rica to research and develop a strategic plan to help ensure that Costa Rica meets the challenge it has set for itself within the following 10 years.

The AMO (Advanced Media Operations) think-tank of the OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture) has been chosen as a partner due to their experience with producing a roadmap for the European Union, the so-called Roadmap 2050: A Practical Guide to a Prosperous, Low-Carbon Europe. For this project, AMO was commissioned by the European Climate Foundation, and worked with leading technical and economic consultancies including McKinsey & Company, KEMA (leading European Grid Consultant), the Imperial College London and Oxford Economics to develop and visualize a roadmap allowing European leaders to envision the fulfillment of the European Union’s emission reduction goal of 80% by 2050. Following this assessment, AMO developed a masterplan for a Europe-wide decarbonized energy grid, demonstrating the necessary interdependence of different regions, which complement each other’s renewable energy potential. In the end, the Roadmap demonstrates that the benefits of collective investment in renewable energy far outweigh the challenges.

However, in the case of most countries, full decarbonization is an unattainable goal. Costa Rica is an exception. The country has almost half of the ecological footprint of most of the countries of a comparable size. Over 50% of Costa Rica’s total energy supply is based on renewable energy sources and in the case of electricity only this percentage exceeds 90%. Much of the country’s income comes from tourism, which is largely eco-based. The challenge to Costa Rica’s decarbonization lies in the cities. More than 62% of the population of Costa Rica lives in an urban center. With transport claiming the majority of the national energy demand, it will be essential to address the inefficiencies of the road infrastructure and public transport options.

The Roadmap to a Carbon-Neutral Costa Rica by 2021 will show how a country in development can become carbon-neutral, improve the living conditions of its inhabitants and form an example for other countries in the world that look for decarbonization. It includes a study on the current situation; a business-as-usual scenario (what will happen if we don’t change anything?); and the road towards carbon neutrality with its economic, environmental, equity and engineering implications.


A 01 (Oliver Schütte, Marije van Lidth de Jeude) with OMA-AMO (Reinier de Graaf, Laura Baird) and LDB Arquitectura for MINAE; images courtesy of OMA-AMO

Location: Costa Rica

Status: Proposal

Year: 2011