Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Costa Rica plants more trees to become carbon neutral

San Jose (AFP) - Costa Rica will plant seven million trees in 2008 to soak up as many greenhouse gas emissions as it produces, in a bid to become the world's first carbon neutral nation, a top official said Monday.

"The stated goal is to be the first neutral country as far as greenhouse gas emissions is concerned," said Energy and Environment Minister Roberto Dobles.

"To get there, this administration is betting on halting deforestation and on the 'Plant a Tree' project," he added, referring to an ongoing government initiative to plant as many trees as possible in the country.

The project aims to "plant seven million trees this year, meaning that in our country there would be 1.5 trees for each Costa Rican.

He added that in 2007 the country managed to plant five million trees, spurred by the desire to forestall an impending environmental catastrophe.

"Climate change is the main threat facing humanity and, even so, the world still can't agree to fight this problem," Dobles said.

Every country can help in the struggle, even a small nation like his own, Dobles said.

"We all know developed countries and big developing nations like China, Brazil and India are chiefly responsible for most of the greenhouse gases that destroy the ozone layer.

"That doesn't mean a country like Costa Rica should stand by doing nothing. On the contrary, we're working on a series of initiatives on the national and global levels to lessen the impact" of climate change, the minister said.

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