Bhutan to recommit its carbon neutral status at COP27

With the priorities of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Bhutan will keep its commitment to remain carbon neutral during the upcoming 27th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP 27) from 7-18 November 2022. The 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 27) to the UNFCCC will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.  

The Prime Minister (PM) Dr Lotay Tshering said that Bhutan has no new proposal for COP27 and will keep as it is “to remain carbon neutral.” Climate change is a serious global concern and the PM said that the country would identify the threats and mitigate the factors contributing to climate change “in our own way.”

If Bhutan should remain carbon neutral, the PM said Bhutan should maintain forest coverage for sequestration, and that people should be encouraged to use public transport to reduce carbon emission. The other strategy the PM mentioned was to switch over to electric car which would reduce the usage of fossil fuel drastically.

The secretary of National Environment Commission (NEC) Sonam P Wangdi said that there is no new negotiation during the upcoming UNFCCC but to continue with the agenda of COP26.

The primary adaptation outcome of COP26 was increased commitments to adaptation finance. Adaptation finance is important because those countries most vulnerable to climate chaos and therefore most in need of adaptation measures often lack the resources to pay for such adjustments. Adaptation finance is also a matter of climate justice. 

With a view to building on previous successes and paving the way for future ambition to effectively tackle the global challenge of climate change, the secretary said LDCs are the strongest negotiators for climate resilience.

“LDCs are still waiting to see much needed progress on climate finance as the countries are already feeling devastating impacts at 1.1 degree Celsius of warming and are struggling to recover,” he said.

The world leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris reached a breakthrough on 12 December 2015: the historic Paris Agreement.

The Agreement sets long-term goals to guide all nations to substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase in this century to 2 degrees Celsius while pursuing efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5 degrees, review countries’ commitments every five years and provide financing to developing countries to mitigate climate change, strengthen resilience and enhance abilities to adapt to climate impacts.

The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016 and the Agreement is a legally binding international treaty comprising 192 countries plus the European Union. However, the LDS and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) require climate finance where developed countries should help according to the secretary.

Finance was one of the most discussed agendas during COP26, with more than 20 items discussed across the different UNFCCC bodies and high political exposure in the margins of the Conference. Overall, the content of the covering decisions of the COP and CMA show some relevant progress while also reflect the many challenges that remain ahead.

The Glasgow Climate Pact calls for a continued increase in the scale and effectiveness of climate finance from all sources globally, including grants and other highly concessional forms of finance. The decisions emphasize the need to consider the needs and vulnerabilities of developing countries, and the challenges faced by them in accessing finance, encouraging further efforts to simplify and enhance access to support.

The NEC secretary said that 70% of the climate fund is invested for mitigation and 30% for adaptation to combat the climate change.

Meanwhile, Bhutan is leading Article 6- Cooperative Approaches and the Kyoto Protocol’s CDM. The package of decisions adopted in Glasgow marks a shift from market-related transfers under the Kyoto Protocol rule set to transfers now guided by Paris Agreement principles and rules.

On all, coming back home after the UNFCCC, the secretary said that it is to restructure the economy, adaptation and build climate resilience. The NEC has asked the ministries and agencies and Bhutan is yet to form the delegations for the COP27.

The COP 27 was originally expected to take place from 8-20 November 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, COP 26 was rescheduled from November 2020 to November 2021. As a result, COP 27 will take place from 7-18 November 2022.

Bhutan chaired LDCs last year during the COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, which was held from 31 October to 13 November 2021.

Sangay Rabten from Thimphu