Most countries in the world have a positive carbon footprint, meaning that they emit more CO2 than their forests absorb. But one country is different. Yes, only one.
Nestled between China and India, the country of Bhutan is the only carbon negative country in the world. This means that their forests are able to absorb more carbon dioxide than is emited.
The sovereign state is made up of about 800,000 citizens, and the country’s commitment to sustainable energy is part of its national identity.
Bhutan’s prime minister Tshering Tobgay, said in a 2016 TED Talk via National Geographic:
Our enlightened monarchs have worked tirelessly to develop our country, balancing economic growth carefully with social development, environmental sustainability, and cultural preservation, all within the framework of good governance.
In fact, sustainability is built into the country’s constitution, and legislation commands that a minimum of 60 per cent of the country’s total land area must be forested at any one time.
In 2015, a team of 100 Bhutans set a world record by planting 49,672 trees in one hour.
The country also has a detailed river network that is used to generate much of the country’s electricity, and its policy of decarbonisation - as well as minimal use of transportation that uses petroleum - makes this landlocked country at the forefront of decreasing humanity’s carbon foot print.
One of the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals for 2030 is to usher developing countries towards a low-carbon economy in an effort to decrease countries’ carbon foot print.
According to The Independent, carbon emissions hit a record high in 2017 due to rising energy demands.
This increase is in contravention to the demands of the Paris climate agreement, in which nations agreed to limit global temperature increases to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial times.
The serious consequences of more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are many and varied – it contributes to global warming, can alter water supplies, weather patterns and increase sea levels.