“The problems facing the world today – they challenge all of us equally. And the solutions to these challenges must come from a real sense of concern and care for others, for all sentient beings and, for future generations. We must care about what happens to this earth.” His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, King of Bhutan Bhutan first made the promise to remain carbon neutral for all time in 2009 during COP 15 in Copenhagen. Then, in December 2015 in Paris, Bhutan reaffirmed to remain carbon neutral and pursue low emission development to achieve the ambitious global targets of climate change post 2020.
Here are some of the ways Bhutan is already keeping this promise:
◦ Bhutan provides free electricity to rural farmers to curb the use firewood.
◦ Bhutan is investing in sustainable transport and subsidizing the purchase of electric vehicles.
◦ Similarly, Bhutan subsidizes the cost of LED lights.
◦ The entire government is trying to go paperless.
◦ Bhutan is cleaning the entire country through Clean Bhutan, a national program, and planting trees throughout the country through Green Bhutan, another national program.
In Bhutan, all the natural elements like mountains, rivers, rocks and even the tress have been revered and considered sacred for centuries as the abode of local deities and gods. Such beliefs have helped the people in natural conservation efforts. Under the reign of wise Kings, policies were made to protect the country’s forest. Bhutan is currently 72 percent forested and the constitution requires that no less than 60 percent of the country remains forested for all times. The constitution also states : Every Bhutanese is a trustee of the Kingdom’s natural resources and environment for the benefit of the present and future generations and it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to contribute to the protection of the natural environment, conservation of the rich biodiversity of Bhutan and prevention of all forms of ecological degradation including noise, visual and physical pollution through the adoption and support of environment friendly practices and policies.
Bhutan is a carbon sink—making it one of the few countries in the world to have negative carbon emissions. Bhutan is net sink for greenhouse gases. Its forests sequester more than 6.3 million tons of carbon dioxide, which is four times more than what Bhutan emits, helping to reduce global warming.
The country has decided to carry forward its conservation legacy. For the time being the potential sources of funding within the country have been considered through tax on vehicles, besides revenues generated from tourism and export of hydropower (green energy). But that is not enough for sustaining the country’s remarkable protected park systems and wildlife sanctuaries for perpetuity, to protect and maintain which, a figure worked out ranges up to US $ 45M which needs to be sourced from a variety of external donors. It will involve an innovative financial scheme that aims at providing a sustained flow of fund for at least 15 years until the Bhutanese can take over the cost without foreign assistance. The country’s patron for environment and conservation, Her Majesty the Queen of Bhutan launched the project ‘Bhutan For Life” earlier this year. To learn more about Bhutan For Life and to help Bhutan help you visit the link HERE