Inspired by the National Geographic travel’s article from October 2017 “Visit the World’s Only Carbon Negative Country” www.nationalgeographic.com/bhutan/carbon-negative-country-sustainability/
I did a bit of research and I discovered interesting aspects not so well highlighted in the article (in my opinion).
I found some information in this article by Climate action.
climateactionprogramme.org/the_worlds_only_carbon_negative_country and others listed in the source list.
Bhutan, officially the Kingdom of Bhutan is a landlocked country in South Asia. Located in the Eastern Himalayas, it is bordered by Tibet Autonomous Region of China in the north, the Sikkim state of India and the Chumbi Valley of Tibet in the west, the Arunachal Pradesh state of India in the east, and the state of Assam and North Bengal in the south. (Wikipedia)
Bhutan produces 1.5 million tonnes of carbon every year, but thanks to the country’s 72 percent forest coverage, more than 6 million tonnes of carbon is absorbed.
Bhutan’s population is only around 750,000; however, many other small countries have not achieved even carbon neutral status. Since 1972, Bhutan has based their political decisions on a Gross National Happiness (GNH) index, rather than Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
All government policies are vetted according to GNH, and what the Bhutanese call the four pillars: good governance, sustainable promotion of socioeconomic development, preservation of culture and environmental conservation.
From 2009, Bhutan introduced a series of policies to ensure the country stayed carbon neutral including a constitutional amendment to guarantee forested areas would not fall below 60 percent, free hydroelectric power generated by Bhutan’s many rivers was prioritized over fossil fuels and export logging was prohibited.
The Bhutanese government has partnered with Nissan to provide hundreds of electric cars to the country— thousands more are to be supplied in the near future, with Bhutan’s Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay aiming to eventually convert all of the country’s vehicles to electric power.
The government has also started providing rural farmers with free electricity to lessen their dependence on wood stoves for cooking.
Additionally, even more, trees have been planted, last June volunteers set a world record by planting 49,672 trees in just one hour.
Is climate change affecting Buthan?
Richard Black, the ECIU’s director, told the Guardian that the country’s push on agroforestry made sense because of its acute vulnerability to climate change.
“As a small state high in the Himalayas, Bhutan faces disruption to water supplies, extreme weather and impacts on ecosystems as a result of changes to the climate, so it is in their interests to address the problem both domestically and through the UN climate process,” he said.
Thinley Namgyel, the country’s chief negotiator in Paris, said public concern about climate change had been a key policy driver, in a country dominated by small subsistence farmers.
“People are already noticing the temperature changes,” he said. “High mountains which should be closed for months are now open year-round. Monsoon rains are not arriving on time, and then appearing when we don’t need them, destroying crops.”
Many water sources outside forest areas were drying up for reasons unknown, Namgyel said, while flash floods were intensifying.
“We see a huge [potential] disaster developing from the mountain glaciers, which are retreating,” Namgyel said. “This threatens people in settlements downstream, as well as the hydropower that we depend upon.”
Preserving biodiversity has knock-on benefits for agriculture, waterways, ecosystem services and general resource wealth, that need not be directly related to climate change. It could, for example, aid regional exports, Black said.
Can tourism help? How?
Unless you’re from India, Bangladesh, or the Maldives, you’ll need a visa to explore this country in South Asia—there is no independent travel. In addition to the visa ($40), tourists must pay an additional $200 to $250 “Minimum Daily Package Fee” and book through an officially approved tour operator. The fee covers lodging in three-star accommodations (extra luxury can be had for a premium), all meals, a licensed tour guide, camping and trekking equipment, domestic travel (excluding flights), and taxes and fees.
A daily sustainable development fee of $65 is also included in the package. This goes towards funding education, healthcare, and poverty alleviation, along with the building of infrastructure to accommodate growing tourism.
WHAT?S NEXT! The country is now aiming to grow 100 percent organic food by 2020, to produce zero waste by 2030, to generate zero net greenhouse gas emission and to increase its share of renewables, particularly wind and solar
National Geographic, Since its inception nearly 130 years ago, the core purpose of National Geographic has been to further the knowledge and awareness of our world. National Geographic Travel is Your guide to traveling with passion and purpose.
Climate Action, established in 2007 and headquartered in London, UK, works in a unique, contractual partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) – the world’s foremost body on environmental protection and stewardship. It establishes and builds partnerships between business, government and public bodies to accelerate international sustainable development and advance the ‘green economy’.
The Guardian 2015, Bhutan has ‘most ambitious pledge’ at the Paris climate summit https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/03/bhutan-has-most-ambitious-pledge-at-paris-climate-summit
Science ABC https://www.scienceabc.com/social-science/carbon-negative-country.html
Are you interested to know more?
Ask #STouW by Sara Vitali about:
#socialmedia strategies for tourism sector & linked sustainable, responsible, green or eco businesses;
#sustainabledevelopment through tourism.