This country isn't just carbon neutral — it's carbon negative | Tshering Tobgay | Summary and Q&A

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April 1, 2016
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This country isn't just carbon neutral — it's carbon negative | Tshering Tobgay

TL;DR

This content is about Bhutan's national dress, their promise to remain carbon neutral, and their efforts to protect their environment.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is the national dress of Bhutan and how does it reflect their cultural identity?

The national dress of Bhutan is called a gho, and it is worn by men in the country. It is a unique and distinctive garment that showcases the vibrant and colorful culture of Bhutan. The gho represents their national identity and is an important part of their cultural traditions.

Q: What is Gross National Happiness (GNH) and how does it influence development in Bhutan?

Gross National Happiness (GNH) is a holistic approach to development that was introduced by Bhutan's fourth king. It places more importance on the happiness and well-being of the people than on economic growth. Bhutan's development initiatives are guided by GNH, ensuring a balance between economic growth, social development, environmental sustainability, cultural preservation, and good governance.

Q: What is unique about Bhutan's commitment to remaining carbon neutral?

Bhutan's commitment to remaining carbon neutral is unique because they not only offset their own carbon emissions, but they are also carbon negative. This means that their forests sequester more carbon dioxide than what is generated in the country. Additionally, Bhutan exports renewable electricity that offsets even more carbon emissions in their neighboring regions.

Q: How does Bhutan plan to combat the effects of climate change and protect their environment?

Bhutan has implemented various strategies to combat the effects of climate change and protect their environment. They provide free electricity to rural farmers to reduce the use of firewood, invest in sustainable transport like electric vehicles, promote the use of LED lights, aim to go paperless, and have national programs to clean up the country and plant trees. Their protected areas, which make up over half of the country, play a crucial role in their carbon neutral strategy and are maintained through funding mechanisms like Bhutan For Life.

Summary

In a powerful and engaging talk, Tshering Tobgay, the Prime Minister of Bhutan, discusses his nation's commitment to remaining carbon neutral. He highlights the unique aspects of Bhutan, such as their national dress and their holistic approach to development called Gross National Happiness (GNH). Despite being a small and underdeveloped country, Bhutan is thriving due to the efforts of their visionary monarchs. Tobgay explains the importance of balancing economic growth with cultural preservation and environmental sustainability. He emphasizes the significance of their thriving culture and pristine environment, with 72 percent of the country covered by forests. Bhutan is not only carbon neutral, but carbon negative, sequestering more carbon dioxide than it produces. They also export renewable electricity to offset carbon dioxide emissions. However, Tobgay acknowledges that the effects of climate change are still impacting Bhutan, with melting glaciers causing disasters. That is why Bhutan is committed to remaining carbon neutral and is implementing various initiatives, such as providing free electricity, promoting sustainable transport, and protecting their parks and wildlife. Tobgay introduces Bhutan For Life, a funding mechanism to sustain their park protection efforts until the government can fully finance them. He shares his dream to replicate this model globally through Earth For Life, appealing to others to join the fight against climate change and protect our planet's future together.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the national dress of Bhutan?

The national dress of Bhutan is called a gho, which is worn by men. It is a unique and colorful attire that allows men to proudly display their legs. Women in Bhutan also wear traditional dress, which is distinctively different from men's attire.

Q: What is Gross National Happiness (GNH) in Bhutan?

Gross National Happiness (GNH) is a holistic approach to development in Bhutan that prioritizes the happiness and well-being of the people. It focuses on balancing economic growth with social development, environmental sustainability, and cultural preservation within the framework of good governance. GNH aims to improve the overall quality of life in Bhutan, going beyond measuring progress solely based on economic indicators like Gross National Product (GNP).

Q: How does Bhutan balance economic growth with cultural preservation and environmental sustainability?

Bhutan recognizes the importance of economic growth for the well-being of its people, but it is committed to ensuring that economic growth does not come at the expense of its unique culture or pristine environment. The country manages this delicate balance by using its limited resources carefully and staying faithful to the core mission of Gross National Happiness (GNH), which prioritizes development with values. Bhutan's commitment to preserving its culture is evident in its celebration of art, architecture, food, festivals, and traditional attire. Environmental sustainability is achieved through policies that protect forests, limit carbon emissions, and invest in clean and renewable energy.

Q: How does Bhutan ensure access to education and healthcare for its citizens?

Bhutan places great emphasis on providing its citizens with access to free education and healthcare. All citizens are guaranteed free school education, and those who work hard are given free college education. This ensures that education is not a privilege limited to a few, but a right for all Bhutanese. Healthcare in Bhutan is also completely free, covering medical consultation, treatment, and medications. The state provides these services by efficiently using its limited resources and staying committed to the values of GNH, which prioritize the well-being and happiness of the people.

Q: How does Bhutan maintain its commitment to remaining carbon neutral?

Bhutan is not only carbon neutral but carbon negative, sequestering more carbon dioxide than it generates. The country achieves this through several strategies. Firstly, Bhutan's extensive forest cover plays a crucial role in carbon sequestration. The constitution mandates that a minimum of 60 percent of Bhutan's total land must remain under forest cover for all time. Currently, 72 percent of the country is under forest cover. Additionally, Bhutan exports most of the renewable electricity it generates from its fast-flowing rivers, offsetting about six million tons of carbon dioxide in its neighborhood. By 2020, Bhutan aims to export enough electricity to offset 17 million tons of carbon dioxide. The country is also working to harness its hydropower potential, which could offset approximately 50 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. Bhutan's commitment to remaining carbon neutral is driven by the recognition that climate change is a reality and that it is already affecting the country through the melting of glaciers and resultant flash floods and landslides.

Q: How does Bhutan protect its parks and wildlife?

Bhutan places great importance on its protected areas, which serve as crucial carbon sinks and biodiverse ecosystems. More than half of the country is protected as national parks, nature reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries. Bhutan has connected these areas with a network of biological corridors that allow animals to freely roam throughout the country. To ensure the preservation of these parks, Bhutan allocates resources annually to prevent poaching, hunting, mining, and pollution within them. They also support the communities living in these areas to manage their forests, adapt to climate change, and lead better lives in harmony with nature. Protecting the parks requires significant financial resources, which is why Bhutan has introduced the Bhutan For Life initiative. It is a funding mechanism to sustain park protection efforts until the government can fully finance them.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker is wearing a traditional Bhutanese dress called a gho, and explains that men and women in Bhutan dress in bright colors and men can show off their legs.

  • Bhutan's promise to remain carbon neutral is unique, as they are the only country that is not just carbon neutral, but carbon negative.

  • Bhutan is working towards protecting their environment through initiatives such as providing free electricity, investing in sustainable transport, and planting trees, and they have started a funding mechanism, Bhutan For Life, to protect their parks. They hope to replicate this idea globally through a fund called Earth For Life.

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