A conspicuous fallout to Bhutan’s commitment to remain carbon neutral for all times to come, that was made at the 15th session of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is that it may result in potential revenue loss for the country.
A recent report ‘Bhutan National Human Development Report 2011, Sustaining Progress: Rising to the Climate Challenge’ revealed that Bhutan’s declaration to remain carbon neutral comes at a cost. The report says that Bhutan will lose out in terms of revenue foregone from logging and timber extraction, reduced returns from farming and loss of revenue from mining of mineral resources and adopting non-intrusive forms of tourism.
“Fulfilling the commitment to remain carbon neutral means activities that could potentially harm the environment such as use of pesticides, logging and mining, and mass tourism would be controlled even if they represent better economic opportunities,” states the report.
It also says that the cost of maintaining ecological balance against rising population, agricultural growth, urbanization and industrialization, and the cost of conservation will be some of the challenges.
“The country will need to bear the additional cost of maintaining ecological balance against a rising population and the agricultural growth, city infrastructure and industrialization needed to meet its needs,” stated the report.
The global community holds a defined responsibility to come forward with a mechanism to reward Bhutan’s resolve and support appropriate mitigation and adaptation measures.
“In this regard Bhutan requires the global community to come forward with a mechanism to reward the country’s resolution and support Bhutan in undertaking appropriate mitigation and adaptation measures as well as adapt to climate change,” states the report.
The report also highlights some of the initiatives that are needed to support Bhutan to remain carbon neutral.
One of the initiatives is technology transfer. It says that as Bhutan is dependent mainly on hydropower, extension of grid to far flung and remote areas is an expensive option and therefore it is worthwhile to examine other renewable energy technologies.
While most Bhutanese in rural areas uses wood for cooking and heating purposes thereby affecting the environment, efforts to provide improved stoves that not only reduce fuel wood consumption but also offer health benefits must continue. The report also suggests an introduction of fuel efficient vehicles.
Other initiatives include innovation and public involvement, and ending energy poverty.
According to the report, the commitment to remain carbon neutral requires two approaches. The first is by creating ways to keep absorbing carbon. And second, the need to engage on sustainable pathways of human development that are low carbon based.
“The expansion of income, health, education, and other social and political achievements in Bhutan should be built on low-carbon trajectories,” the report read.
Slowing and altogether ending the future effects of climate change is an endeavor that binds all nations and people.
“The reality is that maintaining zero or net carbon sink budget for Bhutan will not shift global climate change trajectories but the implications of the commitment are far reaching, for Bhutan and globally,” states the report, adding that changing the understandings of economic growth is critical in Bhutan.