Saturday, 11 June 2016

Climate change: Carbon negative

The idea of 'carbon neutral' has gained great currency:
Futures Forum: Climate change: "Going Carbon Neutral" >>> from Aston Hayes to Exmouth

And one part of the world which is taking this seriously is Scandinavia:
Futures Forum: Sweden, Denmark and Norway have been voted the happiest countries in the world...

But now we have the term 'carbon negative':
Negative carbon dioxide emission - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Although back in 2012, the Mail ran a piece on the subject:
Britain's first carbon negative street - where toilets are flushed with rainwater and there is even a hotel for bugs | Daily Mail Online

A lot has to do with hi-tech:
Futures Forum: Climate change: Will Carbon Capture and Storage be the techno-fix to 'unlock' unburnable fossil fuels?

Explainer: 10 ways 'negative emissions' could slow climate change - Carbon Brief

'Carbon negative' is being seen as much more the point than the overused 'carbon neutral' 
- and the responsibility lies particularly with the developed world which is creating the most CO2. 
Hence the praise for Scandinavia:
Carbon Negative Carbon Offsetting Carbon Neutral

However, there is another part of the world which is actually making the most effort - both in terms of negative emissions and positive happiness:

Bhutan is the only carbon negative country in the world

by Tyler Protano-Goodwin 

Bhutan a Country to Love.

Majestic fog enshrouded temples nestled into mountainous terrain is quite often the first image that one conjures up when thinking of Bhutan. That is if one is able to conjure up an image at all. Bhutan is a seldom traveled destination, with a visa costing 200 GBP per day, making it a bit of a mystery in the minds of many explorers and travelers.

However, despite being a bit of a social recluse (or quite possibly because of it), Bhutan has emerged as a dark horse in both political and environmental progression.

Photo Credit: Christopher Michel

Bhutan has long based their political decisions on a Gross National Happiness (GNH) index, abandoning economic growth as their compass. The only country in the world to make such a switch and now as of 2016 the world’s first country to become carbon negative.

Coincidence? Not a chance.

Read More: The Guardian further explains Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Index

What Does it Mean to be Carbon Negative?

Carbon Dioxide is the leading greenhouse gas emission produced by humans, thus contributing most dramatically to worldwide climate change. Most countries produce far more carbon dioxide than they are able to absorb, unfortunately contributing to the amount of unwanted carbon that makes its way into the atmosphere. For more resources on climate change read our previous blog post.

Photo Credit: Christopher Michel

Bhutan, however, is an anomaly. Thanks to Bhutan’s massive tree cover, 72% of the country is still forested, the country has become a carbon sink. Being a carbon sink means that Bhutan absorbs over 6 million tons of carbon annually while only producing 1.5 million tons.

Go ahead, smile, this kind of accomplishment well deserves it.

How Did Bhutan Become Carbon Negative?

The condition of our environment will always be a central component in humanities happiness which means that environmental protection quickly became a top priority in Bhutan’s political agenda, based on their GNH index model. It started with a promise made back in 2009, to remain carbon neutral tomorrow and for every tomorrow moving forward and picked up speed from there.

A ban was put on export logging.

The constitution was amended to include that forested areas would not drop below 60%.

Free hydroelectric power generated by Bhutan’s many rivers was utilized over environmentally devastating fossil fuels.

It’s quite simple really, Bhutan stopped destroying their environment and started protecting it, something every country and individual has the power to do.

Find out more: Environmental Conservation the Bhutanese Way

What Does Bhutan’s Future Hold?

For a country that has already gained the world’s respect and attention, Bhutan has a big reputation to uphold, and luckily even bigger plans to do so.

By 2030 Bhutan plans to reach zero net greenhouse gas admission and to produce zero waste. This means putting a comprehensive plan of action into place such as increasing it’s share on renewable energy sources such as wind, biogas, and solar.

Photo Credit: Christopher Michel

Other creative environmental initiatives include a partnership with Nissan to provide the country with electrical cars with the intention of eventually changing all vehicles to electric. The government has also started providing rural farmers with free electricity in order to lessen their dependence on wood stoves for cooking. Plus even more trees have been planted, last June volunteers set a world record by planting 49,672 trees in just one hours’ time.

Progressive, mindful, considerate of others, and impressively creative. If Bhutan were a person I think it’s quite reasonable to say that we would all be far down the rabbit hole of love by now.

Bhutan is the only carbon negative country in the world | GVI UK

Here is the TED Talk from the Prime Minister of Bhutan earlier this year:

Tshering Tobgay: This country isn't just carbon neutral -- it's carbon negative | TED Talk | TED.com
This country isn't just carbon neutral — it's carbon negative | Tshering Tobgay - YouTube

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