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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

nec drafts policy to guide bhutan to stay carbon neutral

In 2009, Bhutan committed itself to remain carbon neutral for all times to come at Copenhagen in Denmark during the 15th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The National Environment Commission (NEC) is now preparing a Carbon Neutral Policy which will guide the country on how to remain carbon neutral.
The Secretary of NEC, Dr. Ugyen Tshewang, said after Bhutan committed itself to remain carbon neutral, Bhutan has made various initiatives and is now working on a carbon neutral strategy.
“We are preparing a strategy that will guide us on how to remain carbon neutral,” said Dr. Ugyen Tshewang.
There will be a nine point strategy in the Carbon Neutral Policy which is still in the draft stage and needs to be finalized.
“The strategies will need to be mainstreamed with support from all the relevant stakeholders,” said Dr. Ugyen Tshewang.
Some strategies include the already existing law (Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2008) which requires the country to maintain at least 60% of the total area under forest cover at all times.
Another strategy is the declaration of another 4954 square kilometers of land as national park bringing the total area under parks and protected areas to 19,750 (around 51% of land area) of which close to 10% consists of biological corridors.It is important for the local communities to get involved in helping Bhutan remain carbon neutral. Therefore, the strategies include empowerment of local communities to take ownership and responsibility for managing natural resources through community forestry schemes. Promotion of eco-literacy through the school curricula will also be looked at.
Another strategy is to have in place an enhanced capacity to monitor air and water qualities and to enforce environmental standards on industries.
Dr. Ugyen Tshewang said as of now, Bhutan is comfortable when it comes to remaining carbon neutral. “We have a negative carbon sink,” he added.
It is estimated that Bhutan emits 6.3mn tones of carbon against a sequestration amount of 6.3mn tones (GHG Inventory Report, 2000). This leaves Bhutan with a net emission of -4.7mn tones. It means that Bhutan can still afford to emit some more carbon.
“With this document in place it will help us ensure that we are able to maintain the carbon neutral policy,” said Dr. Ugyen Tshewang.
Bhutan has also prioritized sectors for economic development and these are Eco-friendly hydropower generation, green tourism and organic agriculture.
One of the strategies is to adopt watershed and climate change management and sustainable land management practices to address land degradation.
“There will also be an adoption of a strategy focusing on eco-friendly land use practices, reforestation of existing degraded areas and enhancing regeneration of old forests,” said Dr. Ugyen Tshewang.
Other strategies include the adoption of a policy to plough back 1% royalty on hydroelectricity to watershed management and adoption of a Green or Full Cost Accounting system to make agencies and individuals responsible and accountable for adopting proper environmental standards and ethics.
Dr. Ugyen Tshewang said Bhutan already had measures to protect the environment before it committed to remain carbon neutral. “There are many initiatives taken before the commitment which shows Bhutan’s commitment in conserving the environment,” he said.
Some of the measures taken are focusing on the development and use of renewable energy from hydro-electricity and solar powers, reduction of slash and burn farming (shifting cultivation) by offering alternative eco-friendly land use systems to farmers.
Bhutan adopted the code of management and use of forest for the protection and conservation of forest. It banned the export of timber, restricted burning of forest for pasture or agriculture.

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