Sandwiched between India and China, Bhutan is a tiny country with nearly 70% of its mainland covered with woodlands, acting as a natural carbon sink by absorbing carbon-di-oxide. Being carbon-negative means that it absorbs more carbon-di-oxide than what it produces.
According to Bhutan’s own figures, this nation of around 750,000 people removes nearly three times as much CO2 as it produces. Bhutan’s ability to be a net carbon sink is partly due to its natural forests and the fact that it is relatively undeveloped -most people work in agriculture or forestry-which means it emits less than 2.5 million tons of CO2 each year. Luxembourg, for example, with a smaller population, emits four times as much.
What’s interesting is that Bhutan has managed to maintain its carbon levels in the midst of a booming tourism sector, and being the happiest country in Asia. Environmental protection is enshrined in the constitution, which states that a minimum of 60% of Bhutan’s total land should be maintained under forest cover for all time. The country even banned logging exports in 1999.
What’s more, almost all the country’s electricity comes from hydropower. In fact, it produces so much hydroelectricity that it sells to neighboring countries, which Bhutan claims offsets another 4.4 million tons of annual CO2 emissions. And Bhutan says that by 2025, increased hydroelectricity exports will let the country offset up to 22.4 million tons of CO2 per year in the region.
It is important to mention that Bhutan is not the only carbon-negative country. Suriname, a small country in South America, too is carbon-negative. But the country is plagued with more than 70% of its population living below the poverty line.
Other countries too are following this trend. Norway legally pledged to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2030 while Sweden has legally pledged to achieve the same by 2045.
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