Bhutan: A model for carbon negativity and lessons for Pakistan.

Bhutan: A model for carbon negativity and lessons for Pakistan.
  • May 22, 2024
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Bhutan, often known as the "Land of the Thunder Dragon," is a peaceful country in the Eastern Himalayas that encourages contemplative life by fusing ancient customs with the environment. This country is unique not just because of its rich history but also because it is the world's first carbon-negative nation, leading the way in environmental care. Bhutan's Gross National Happiness (GNH) index gives equal weight to cultural and environmental preservation as well as the social, physical, and spiritual well-being of its people, in contrast to standard economic metrics. A natural benefit of sequestering carbon dioxide, this notion is codified in the constitution, which stipulates that at least 60% of the country's land must remain forested for future generations.

Bhutan's enormous woods, which cover 72.3% of the country, are vital carbon sinks as well as refuges for wildlife and the environment. Bhutan is carbon-negative because these lush lands absorb more carbon dioxide (CO2) than the nation emits. Here, forests are highly valued as sacred sites that provide essential ecosystem functions and contribute to a circular economy by providing resources like timber and non-timber forest products. Bhutan made history in 2015 when a committed group of 100 volunteers in the country's capital city, Thimphu, planted an incredible 49,672 trees in just one hour, demonstrating their unwavering devotion.

The nation's many rivers produce low-carbon hydroelectricity, which it exports liberally to its neighbors, greatly lowering emissions in the area. Bhutan exported more than 80% of the approximately 11,000 GWh of energy it produced in 2021, with the goal of using hydroelectricity exports to offset 22.4 million tons of CO2 emissions in the region by 2025. Bhutan has demonstrated its dedication to sustainability by adopting renewable energy technology, such as grid-tied solar projects like the one at the UN House in Thimphu. By diversifying Bhutan's energy sources and possibly lowering reliance on climate-vulnerable hydropower, these initiatives not only demonstrate the feasibility of solar energy but also improve the country's energy security.

In line with Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, Bhutan's creative use of technology and innovation promotes precise, effective, safe, and transparent carbon markets. Bhutan's unique conservation approach, which is based on Buddhist principles and promotes peace with the environment and respect for all living things, is what motivates the country's unshakable dedication to protecting its natural resources. A global movement towards sustainability has been sparked by Bhutan's success in becoming carbon-negative. Nonetheless, the globe continues to struggle with the problem of excessive CO2 emissions; the major emitters are China, the US, India, Russia, and Japan, and even Pakistan contributes to this urgent problem.

Nevertheless, Pakistan has significant challenges in the face of the advancements achieved by nations such as Iceland, Costa Rica, Denmark, Sweden, Morocco, and Singapore in implementing renewable energy solutions. Its high reliance on fossil fuels, especially for agricultural and electricity generation, puts it in 30th place on the global carbon index and exacerbates air pollution and climate vulnerabilities. This reliance exposes the nation to increased flooding and economic hardship as a result of irregular rainfall patterns, in addition to contributing to environmental deterioration. Pakistan must move to sustainable energy sources and put in place strong climate adaptation policies, which highlights how urgent it is to solve these issues. The nation could face more serious environmental and socioeconomic repercussions if swift action is not taken.

Enhancing Pakistan's carbon sinks and promoting sustainable development can be achieved by taking a cue from Bhutan's achievements in ecotourism and forest protection. By utilizing its enormous hydropower potential, we can reduce our need for fossil fuels and improve our energy security. Environmental stewardship is promoted by involving local people in conservation initiatives and educational programs. Reducing emissions can be achieved by individual acts like switching to a plant-based diet, using public transportation, and using renewable energy. A sustainable Pakistan is made possible by concerted efforts and specific goals, such as attaining net-zero emissions by 2050. It is essential to encourage companies to implement sustainable practices. By putting these tactics into practice on all fronts, we can promote a more sustainable future for everybody and a healthier world.

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