A true example of walk the talk, Bhutan has been an inspiration to the world. It has prioritized happiness over economic growth and set a benchmark for environmental preservation. Today, as the world debates and struggles to balance growth, development, energy requirements and their negative effects on our environment, this small nation has dared to standup and inspire the world (http://idishoom.com/happiness-the-bhutanese-inspiration-for-growth-and-development/).
In December of 2009, in the 15th session of the United Nations Conference on Climate change or UNFCC (COP15) in Copenhagen, Bhutan was the first nation to make a commitment to stay carbon neutral. “We promise to remain carbon neutral for all time”, Bhutan. A huge commitment coming from an underdeveloped country, if evaluated from the GDP perspective! But even then, the voice of this small proactive nation went unheard amongst the blame games of the big nations. But Bhutan, remained true to their promise. Of the 200-odd countries in the world today, we are the only ones that’s carbon neutral, says the Bhutanese Premiere, Tshering Tobgay. During the last COP meet in Paris (COP21), Bhutan again reiterated their commitment and fortunately this time they were heard. The hard reality of climate change is finally sinking in.
Bhutan has committed to stay carbon neutral ie. to maintain its net sink for greenhouse gasses by ensuring that the levels of the latter do not exceed the sequestering capacity of its forests. 72% of Bhutan is under forest cover, 12% more than the minimum required by their constitution. To reduce greenhouse gases, the Bhutanese government provides free electricity to rural farmers so as to avoid the use of firewood; invests in sustainable transport and provides subsidies for the purchase of electric vehicles; and above all promotes planting of trees, under the national Green Bhutan program. These measures have not only made Bhutan Green but also promote biodiversity. More than half the country is protected as national parks, nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries. In addition, these green corridors are also interconnected through a network of biological corridors allowing free movement of animals in the country. Today, Bhutan is not just carbon neutral, it is carbon negative, ie. the capacity of their forests to sequester greenhouse gases is more than what is produced in the country.
A small, green, happy Himalayan nation, Bhutan, is an inspiration to the world.