On June 5, as the world celebrated the Environment Day, Bhutan marked an important milestone with the launch of the 2nd Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). The unveiling of this critical document outlining Bhutan's raised climate ambition comes ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, scheduled to take place in Glasgow, UK this November.
Bhutan's 2nd NDC reiterates the commitment to remain carbon neutral and charts a path to enhance its mitigation targets and actions through sectoral Low Emission Development Strategies (LEDS) and National REDD+ Strategy and Action Plan 2020.
The LEDS were developed for key sectors of human settlement, food security, industries, and surface transport. The sectoral strategies aim at decoupling economic growth and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through clean technology, innovation, renewable energy, and green jobs creation.
The LEDS preparation underwent rigorous consultations through an inclusive and participatory process involving the government and private sector, civil society organizations, development partners and individual experts.
Bhutan’s carbon neutral status was confirmed by its latest greenhouse gas inventory with emissions of 3.8 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2e) equivalent in 2015 and sequestration at 9.4 million tons of carbon dioxide resulting in a net carbon sink balance of 5.6 million tons of CO2e .
However, Bhutan cannot be complacent. Rapid economic growth can use up the carbon budget within a few decades. The NDC identifies low emission development pathways to help Bhutan pursue development objectives while also maintaining its carbon neutral status.
While the 2nd NDC is ambitious and sets clear carbon reduction targets, Bhutan would require financial, technical and capacity building support from both national and international partners to ensure it meets its raised climate goals.
The NDC2 and LEDS preparations were supported through the UNDP Climate Promise and NDC Support programs, financed by the EU and the governments of Italy, Sweden, Spain, and Germany.
Low Emission Development Strategies
Industries: The Low Emission Development Strategy for Industries presents transformative action opportunities to promote cleaner production, economic diversification, and industrial competitiveness, while promoting growth and development of the manufacturing sector in a sustainable manner.
Human settlement: The Low Emission Development Strategy for Human Settlement presents opportunities for building sustainable and liveable cities and settlements. Several migration measures have been prioritised comprising of short, medium, and long-term actions for the period 2021-2050. These include uptake of small-scale renewable energy, improved waste management practices and standards, sustainable infrastructure and integrated urban planning and development.
Food security: The Low Emission Development Strategy for Agriculture identifies six mitigation actions categorized into two priority lists under a high ambition scenario and a focused scenario. The scenarios include (1) switching from synthetic to organic fertilizers; (2) improving agricultural practices; (3) increasing biomass through increased perennial crop production; (4) producing domestic biogas; (5) reducing continuous rice flooding; and (6) and improving dairy cattle production.
Surface transport: This sector has been identified as the primary source of GHG emission in the country, responsible for over 424,830 metric tons CO2e emissions 2015. The LEDS for Surface Transport provide strategic intervention options for transport and mobility through the implementation of sustainable transport modalities including promotion of mass transit, low emission vehicles like electric vehicles and non-motorized transport. It also streamlines institutional arrangements and identifies opportunities to access international financing mechanisms.
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