Quantcast

This Country Isn't Just Carbon Neutral ... It's Carbon Negative

Climate

Bhutan is often overlooked by the international community. The small nation lies deep within the Himalayas between China and India, two of the most populated countries in the world.

But the country of about 750,000 people has set some impressive environmental benchmarks. As we've written about in the past, Bhutan is not merely carbon neutral, it’s also a carbon sink—making it one of the few countries in the world to have negative carbon emissions.

The Punakha Dzong (the Palace of Great Happiness). It's located at the confluence of Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu (Mother and Father rivers) in Bhutan. Photo credit: Marina and Enrique / Flickr

This means the country's carbon sinks, such as its forests, absorb more carbon dioxide each year than its sources of pollution, such as factories, emit.

“According to recent figures, the country emits around 1.5 million tonnes of carbon annually, while its forests absorb over 6 million tonnes,” Proudly Carbon Neutral said.

To boot, Bhutan is aiming for zero net greenhouse gas emissionszero-waste by 2030 and to grow 100 percent organic food by 2020. The Himalayan nation is currently 72 percent forested and the constitution requires that no less than 60 percent of it remains forested. It has even banned export logging.

Trees hold special value in Buddhism, the nation's dominant religion. Last June, a team of 100 volunteers set a world record for planting 49,672 trees in just one hour. And earlier this month, to celebrate the birth of the first child of King Khesar and Queen Jetson, all 82,000 households in Bhutan planted a tree, while volunteers planted another 26,000 in various districts around the country, for a total of 108,000 trees.

Bhutan also refuses to judge its success on Gross Domestic Product, instead using an index that measures Gross National Happiness.

Read page 1

Many have credited its Gross National Happiness index as part of the reason for the country’s strong commitment to environmental stewardship. Rather than focusing solely on economic indicators, the index measures prosperity by giving equal importance to non-economic aspects of well being.

“Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness index gives the natural world a central place in the making of public policy, and environmental protection is a core guiding principle in Bhutan’s constitution,” the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.

Taktsang Palphug Monastery (also known as Tiger's Nest), is a prominent Buddhist temple in Bhutan. Many credit the Bhutanese people's devotion to Buddhist principles for the country's impressive environmental stewardship. Photo credit: Aymaan Ahmed / Flickr

The country would also like to increase its share of renewables, while decreasing its reliance on hydropower and electricity imports in the winter. So, it's currently exploring wind, biogas and solar.

And the Bhutanese government has formed a partnership with Nissan to provide hundreds of electric cars to the country—with the promise of thousands soon after. Bhutan’s Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay wants to eventually convert all of the country's vehicles to electric power.

The nation is not without its problems of course, as Tobgay readily admitted in a TED Talk he gave last month. But the country is no doubt unique in a world that has too often valued economic growth above all else, often at the expense of the environment.

For more on how Bhutan emerged as an environmental leader, watch Tobgay share his country's mission to put happiness before economic growth and set a world standard for environmental preservation in his TED Talk:

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Bhutan Celebrates Birth of Prince by Planting 108,000 Trees

The Nature Conservancy and Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Unite to Create Second Largest Marine Protected Area in West Indian Ocean

Federal Court to Decide if Kids Can Sue Government for Failing to Act on Climate Change

Portland Becomes 7th City to Sue Monsanto Over PCB Contamination

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pick one of these nine activism styles, and you can start making change. YES! Illustrations by Delphine Lee

By Cathy Brown

Most of us have heard about UN researchers warning that we need to make dramatic changes in the next 12 years to limit our risk of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty caused by climate change. Report after report about a bleak climate future can leave people in despair.

Read More Show Less
Jamie Grill Photography / Getty Images

Losing weight, improving heart health and decreasing your chances for metabolic diseases like diabetes may be as simple as cutting back on a handful of Oreos or saying no to a side of fries, according to a new study published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
A boy gives an impromptu speech about him not wanting to die in the next 10 years during the protest on July 15. The Scottish wing of the Extinction Rebellion environmental group of Scotland locked down Glasgow's Trongate for 12 hours in protest of climate change. Stewart Kirby / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

It's important to remember that one person can make a difference. From teenagers to world-renowned scientists, individuals are inspiring positive shifts around the world. Maybe you won't become a hard-core activist, but this list of people below can inspire simple ways to kickstart better habits. Here are seven people advocating for a better planet.

Read More Show Less
A group of wind turbines in a field in Banffshire, Northeast Scotland. Universal Images Group / Getty Images

Scotland produced enough power from wind turbines in the first half of 2019, that it could power Scotland twice over. Put another way, it's enough energy to power all of Scotland and most of Northern England, according to the BBC — an impressive step for the United Kingdom, which pledged to be carbon neutral in 30 years.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Beekeeper Jeff Anderson works with members of his family in this photo from 2014. He once employed all of his adult children but can no longer afford to do so. CHRIS JORDAN-BLOCH / EARTHJUSTICE

By Jessica A. Knoblauch

It's been a particularly terrible summer for bees. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is allowing the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor back on the market. And just a few weeks prior, the USDA announced it is suspending data collection for its annual honeybee survey, which tracks honeybee populations across the U.S., providing critical information to farmers and scientists.

Read More Show Less

tommaso79 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Rachel Licker

As a new mom, I've had to think about heat safety in many new ways since pregnant women and young children are among the most vulnerable to extreme heat.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

It's easy to get confused about which foods are healthy and which aren't.

Read More Show Less