Carbon-Negative Countries

Bhutan has been called the world's only "carbon negative" country.

The Kingdom of Bhutan is the only carbon negative country in the world. A carbon negative country is a state that removes more greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere than it emits. About twelve countries are carbon-neutral meaning their production of greenhouse gases is equal to their consumption. About 98% of the countries on the planet are carbon-positive meaning that they produce more greenhouse gas than they removed from the atmosphere.

Where is Bhutan?

Bhutan is a small landlocked country in South Asia; it is sandwiched between China and India. The state covers an area of 14,824 square miles and has a population of about 800,000. The country measures success by the degree of happiness rather than economic development. Bhutan developed the Gross National Happiness (GNP) index in a bid to make the country the happiest state in the world. The four pillars of GNP include cultural preservation, environmental protection, good governance, and sustainable development.

Carbon Footprint

Every person on the planet has a carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gas that is directly or indirectly attributed to an individual's daily activities. A person can directly contribute to their carbon footprint by engaging in activities that produce greenhouse gasses such as using firewood to prepare food or indirectly by purchasing products made from industrial processes that emit greenhouse gases. Driving, flying, buying electronic devices, and even consuming meat contribute to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Individual's carbon footprint, industrialization, uncontrolled land-use, and international shipping among many other activities add up to the carbon footprint of a country. China has the largest carbon footprint with an annual production of 10.5 million tons of greenhouse gases. The United States produces 5 million tons, India 2.5 million, Russia 1.6 million, and Japan 1.2 million. Bhutan has a carbon footprint of about 2.2 million tons. Surprisingly, the figure is much higher than Russia’s and Japan’s. However, Bhutan consumes 6 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.

How Does Bhutan Manage to Be Carbon Negative? 

Bhutan is a country that values its culture and protects the environment. It is a developing country with a GDP of about 2.2 billion dollars. Although it sits between the industrialized economies of China and India, the state does not prospect matching the economic weight of her neighbors. Global warming has pushed the country to enact stringent measures to protect her environment although she bears the consequences of other countries. About 72% of Bhutan is under dense forest cover. Trees use carbon dioxide during photosynthesis and release oxygen; this is the main reason why the country has managed to be carbon negative. The government produces hydroelectric power and distributes it free to its citizens to prevent them from burning firewood.The government also subsidize power friendly gadgets such as LED lights and electric vehicles. The state has gazetted all forest as protected areas to prevent poaching, mining, hunting, and pollution. All protected reserves are connected through biological corridors that allow animals to move from one corner of the country to the other without interacting with humans. While the developed and developing nations set visions of economic development and prosperity, Bhutan aims at reducing its carbon emission to zero by 2030 and increase its carbon consumption to 10 million tons.


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