Bhutan Environment

Environmental Policies of Bhutan & the Impact of Climate Change

One of the four pillars of GNH is environmental conservation. The concept of protecting nature with respect has long been deeply rooted in the consciousness of the people in Bhutan. Based on the philosophy of GNH, which aims to realize a society in which people enjoy long lives in harmony with nature, Bhutan has been actively working on environmental protection from early on. Even from a global perspective, the initiative was far ahead of its time.

Bhutan's environmental policies emphasize sustainable and moderate development to maintain a good balance between economic growth and environmental preservation. The country places a particular focus on forest preservation. The Fourth King rejected the idea of exploiting the rich natural resources for short-term profit. Instead, His Majesty emphasized the preservation of undeveloped nature for future generations. The Constitution of Bhutan stipulates that the Government shall ensure that a minimum of sixty percent of Bhutan's total land shall be maintained under forest cover for all time. Bhutan has surpassed this goal with more than 70% of the land currently covered by forests, resulting in the nation's rich biodiversity flourishing.

These forests not only provide essential ecosystem services to each region, but also become important water resources for rivers that support hydraulic power generation . In addition to producing power for domestic use, Bhutan exports electricity from its hydraulic power plants to its neighbor, India. The income from hydraulic power accounts for more than 40% of the country revenue.

Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, cause global warming, but the bountiful forests in Bhutan absorb a large amount of carbon dioxide from the air. In addition, Bhutan prioritizes the quality rather than the speed of the economic growth, and by doing so, has kept carbon dioxide emissions to an extremely low level. Today, counties around the world strive to achieve carbon neutrality, which means maintaining an equilibrium between carbon dioxide emissions and absorption to achieve net zero emissions. Bhutan is one of the few countries that has achieved a carbon negative status, which means that the absorption of carbon dioxide by forests, etc. is larger than the emissions produced by human activity. Bhutan has clearly stated that the country will remain carbon negative.

However, the impact of climate change caused by global warming has affected people's lives around the world, including Bhutan, despite the tremendous strides it has made in environmental preservation.

The Himalayan mountains contain the third-largest deposit of glaciers after the North and South Poles, making them known as the "third pole. " Global warming is causing the destruction of ice sheets and glacier melt, and it is already causing rising sea level. It's also having a detrimental influence on ocean currents in the Antarctic and the Arctic. Surrounded by the Himalayas, Bhutan also faces threats of climate change caused by global warming. Over the past 50 years, the line of permanent snow has risen by 100 meters, and glaciers have been receding 10 to 60 meters per year.

The biggest threats are frequently occurring floods and landslides downstream of glacial lakes caused by glacial lake outburst floods. Countries around the Himalayas, such as China and Nepal, have already suffered significant damage. There are more than 2,600 glacial lakes in Bhutan, and approximately 25 of these lakes are at potential risk of large-scale destruction. Furthermore, global warming also can lead to an increase in precipitation during the monsoon season, which increases the risk of large-scale landslides.

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