It may be difficult to point out on a map, but the small nation of Bhutan is making big waves in the eco-conscious community. Despite the fact that Bhutan is not known for being a country of great wealth and innovation, they have become the only country in the world that doesn’t just have zero carbon emissions, they actually have a negative carbon emission count.
What is Carbon Negative?
Humans release carbon dioxide into the air everyday by burning fossil fuels and deforestation, and every year, many countries do not have the capabilities to absorb the high amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Being carbon negative means that whatever carbon emissions are produced by the country are actually being taken out of the air altogether.
How Did Bhutan Become Carbon Negative?
Nestled in the Himalayas between the world powers of India and China, the country of Bhutan pledged to remain carbon neutral during the 2009 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris. To accomplish this, they began looking at their laws and making necessary changes. To start, 72% of the country of Bhutan is forested, so export logging was banned and an amendment to their constitution was added so that the percentage of forested area could not drop below 60%.
“The Government shall ensure that, in order to conserve the country’s natural resources and to prevent degradation of the ecosystem, a minimum of sixty percent of Bhutan’s total land shall be maintained under forest cover for all time”
– Article 5 Section 3: Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan
Energy consumption of its citizens was a concern, as fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, and coal create massive amounts of carbon emissions into the air. To counteract this need for energy, farmers have access to hydroelectric power that comes naturally from the many rivers throughout the country.
Beyond that, Bhutan’s government has been trying to make additional changes within their offices, taking steps to become paperless and creating subsidies on eco-friendly products such as LED lights and electric cars.
Despite putting into action these huge changes for its citizens, Bhutan is thriving. Though considered underdeveloped with a GDP of a little under $2 billion dollars, Bhutan’s dedication to the environment but not at the cost of its citizens should be celebrated and modeled after by countries around the rest of the developed world.
Moving forward, the rest of the world could benefit from Bhutan’s example by recognizing the importance of tree cover and by finding alternative energy sources that have little impact on the environment.