27 November, 2022 |

Environment

How did Bhutan become a Carbon -ve country?

Bhutan’s most significant achievement as a country is that they have managed to become carbon negative. In this article, we shall see: what is meant by being carbon-negative. How Bhutan managed to become carbon negative, and we can learn from Bhutan.

Introduction: Bhutan's jungles absorb much more carbon dioxide (CO2) than its modest 1.1 million tonnes of CO2 production. This amounts to a net annual CO2 sink of millions of tonnes. Bhutan also sends the majority of the renewable electricity produced by its swiftly running rivers to India, causing the nation to become carbon negative.

**What Does Carbon Negative Mean? ** In practice, carbon negative refers to greenhouse gas emissions that are less than zero for both carbon dioxide and its equivalent (CO2e). Carbon negative refers to your net emissions because it is not feasible to emit any physical substance—including carbon—in a negative amount. Being carbon negative implies using carbon avoidance, sequestration, or capture to offset more carbon than it releases into the atmosphere.

Dangers of carbon emission Carbon emissions significantly impact the environment because they are the most greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. Of course, this contributes to global warming and climate change.

Humans cause carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere from everyday human activities such as driving a car or farming. The Environmental Protection Agency identifies six major sources of greenhouse gases: transportation, power generation, industry, commercial and residential, agriculture, land use, and forestry. According to the U.S. Inventory, the EPA's Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Removals Report, transportation accounted for 28.9% of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, making it the largest contributor of any category.

**Industries in Bhutan ** Bhutan's economy is based on agriculture and forestry, with agriculture and forestry employing more than 60% of the population. Agriculture consists primarily of subsistence farming and animal husbandry.

Each economic programme considers the government's desire to protect the country's environment and cultural traditions. The government encourages visits by high-end and environmentally conscious tourists as part of a cautious expansion of the tourism sector. Detailed controls and uncertain policies continue to halt foreign investment in areas such as industrial licencing, trade, labour, and finance.

Among Bhutan's most significant exports are Ferrosilicon, Cement, Cardamom, Calcium Carbide, Steel Bars/Bars, Dolomite, Gypsum, and Hydropower (for India).

How Bhutan became carbon-negative? Bhutan's Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay explained in a TED Talk that international cooperation could eventually lead to many countries becoming carbon neutral.

Bhutan's national climate-neutral strategy is built around protected areas. Bhutan's constitution now requires that at least 60% of its total land area be forested permanently. Today, forests cover 81% of Bhutan, and national parks, nature reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries protect more than half of the country, which is linked by a network of biological corridors. Resources are also provided to assist park communities in effectively managing their forests, adapting to climate change, and living in harmony with their environment. This aids in the prevention of poaching, mining, hunting, and pollution in the park.

Nature is essential to both the government and the people. Despite abundant deposits of coal, gypsum, dolomite, limestone, and other minerals, the country prefers to protect the environment rather than legalise and exploit mining for profit.

Here are some of the ways Bhutan became carbon negative: -Log export is prohibited. -The Constitution states that 60% of the country's total land area must be permanently forested. -Free hydropower from Bhutan's many rivers is used instead of harmful fossil fuels. -Rural farmers receive electricity for free.

Bhutan strongly emphasises reducing negative environmental impacts and promoting environmentally sound practices, with positive results both domestically and globally. It is worth noting that Bhutan is a small, non-industrial country, and its environmental commitments face more significant challenges than those of large industrialised countries like Australia. However, Bhutan's track record demonstrates what can be accomplished when environmental sustainability is prioritised on the political agenda.

**What we can learn from Bhutan ** Conservation Bhutan's small population and general lack of overexploitation have aided in conserving its forests. Because of the topography, the more accessible forests are overgrown, while the remote forests are mostly left alone. Progressive government-sponsored forestry policies attempted to strike a balance between revenue needs and environmental concerns, such as water management and soil conservation.

Conscientious Forestry Prior to converting to hydropower, the government established firewood plantations near villages to meet their daily needs while also promoting forest conservation, as affordable electricity was unavailable throughout the country.

Banning & Standards Faced with an increasingly barren hillside, private logging was prohibited, and strict public logging standards were implemented in 1979. Farmers were warned not to burn forests to clear land for tseri cultivation, and an increasing number of forest guards were trained to protect the valuable resource. The Fifth Development Plan on Forest Conservation focused on mapping, delineation, conservation, and management plans for harvesting forest products. A wildlife sanctuary is also in the works.

Challenges ahead of Bhutan Air pollution Significant air pollution, primarily from external sources in India, has appeared as a brown haze in Bhutan's atmosphere since 2006. This air pollution has resulted in reduced crop yields and increased public health concerns. His four cement plants in Bhutan have been identified as one of the significant sources of indoor air pollution, with three of the four failing to meet modern emission standards.

Poaching Poaching is a major environmental issue in Bhutan, both within the country and beyond its borders. Many species are being hunted for their purported medicinal properties. Although wildlife products such as rhino horn, tiger bones, musk, and cordyceps are protected in Bhutan, they command high prices outside the country.

Climate change Bhutan has been dealing with ongoing and imminent climate change since the late twentieth century. Significant climate change has caused many glaciers in Bhutan to warm and retreat, increasing the frequency and severity of glacial lake outbursts (GLOFs). Climate change is also causing changes in agricultural patterns in Bhutan, raising concerns about the country's agricultural stability.

Urbanization Due to increased urbanisation, industrialization, and economic development, Bhutan faces urban environmental challenges. Until 2011, the relatively urban area lacked designated landfill sites and effective waste disposal systems, and residents simply burned, dumped, or threw their garbage off cliffs. Improper waste disposal accounted for 52% of waste generated in 2012.

Noise pollution With the introduction of loudspeakers, headphones, and roaring engines, Bhutanese media has identified noise pollution as an environmental issue, citing negative consequences ranging from distraction to hearing loss.

**Takeaways ** We learnt : what it means by being carbon negative. The industries in Bhutan The ways Bhutan became carbon-negative, and What the rest of the world can learn from Bhutan By 2030 Bhutan plans to reach zero net greenhouse gas emissions and to produce zero waste. This means putting a comprehensive plan of action into place, with items such as increasing its reliance on renewable energy sources – like wind, biogas and solar power.

Conclusion Trees cover more than 70% of the country. Bhutan has become a carbon sink due to its extensive tree cover. That is, it absorbs more CO2 than it produces. Bhutan absorbs approximately 7 million tonnes of CO2 annually while emitting only about 2 million tonnes. Bhutan has accomplished something remarkable that other countries can learn from. Making the world carbon-free, on the other hand, is extremely difficult. Bhutan is "on the path to green and low-carbon development" due to a government initiative to achieve zero-waste status by 2030.

We hope you loved this blog; if the answer is yes, then show your love by sharing this valuable content with your friends and loved ones. Until then, ensure you behave responsibly towards the environment and plant a sapling whenever possible. Best Regards :)

Picture Credits -Natucate

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