USD 3.44bn required for Bhutan’s intended actions against climate change

The transport sector, a primary source of GHG emission, requires about USD 3.23bn for mitigation measures

Bhutan’s 2nd Nationally Determined Contributions’ intended actions to mitigate climate change requires about USD 3.44bn until 2030. 

It also calls on the international community to continue and enhance the support for Bhutan’s efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

“The successful implementation of our intended actions to mitigate will depend on the level of financial and technical support received,” states the NDCs. 

NDCs are pledges on climate action submitted by countries under the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to below 2 degree Celsius and preferably to 1.5 degree over pre-industrial levels.

Bhutan’s carbon neutral status was confirmed by its latest greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory with emissions of 3.8mn tons of carbon dioxide (CO2e) equivalent in 2015 and sequestration at 9.4mn tons of carbon dioxide.  

It showed that Bhutan has already achieved and exceeded the carbon neutral goal of the Paris Agreement with a net carbon sink balance of 5.6mn tons of CO2e in 2015.

However, Bhutan cannot be complacent as rapid economic growth can use up the carbon budget within a few decades.

The 2nd NDCs commits 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.  

Implementing National REDD+ Strategy for forest conservation and management is estimated to require approximately USD 54.5mn to achieve five targets until 2030.  

It targets to maintain 436mn tonnes of forest carbon stock outside protected area system, to maintain at least 50% of land under protected area or maintain 201 tonnes of forest carbon stock in protected area (51.44% of land area and 31% of forest area), 2,000 ha of plantation and restoration work for enhancement of forest carbon stock through climate smart restoration, initiate and promote agro-forestry in 15 acres, and conduct wetland assessment for understanding organic carbon content for conservation of wetlands. 

Moreover, LEDS for key sectors of food security, human settlement, industries, and surface transport aims at decoupling economic growth and GHG emissions through clean technology, innovation, renewable energy, and green jobs creation. 

Food security LEDS identifies six mitigation actions and the cost of implementing requires an estimated investment of USD 61.65mn and the prioritised mitigation measures and targets until 2030 have the cumulative potential of up to 710 metric tons of CO2e.

It targets 5% switching from synthetic to organic fertilisers annually, 14,971 ha of agriculture land under improved agriculture practices, 17,495 ha of agriculture land under increased biomass through increased perennial crop production, 10,254 numbers of small and medium scale domestic biogas production, reduce 200 ha per year of rice flooding, and 8,333 numbers of improved dairy cattle production. 

Additionally, LEDS for human settlement identifies measures over the short term and medium term (2020-2030) for building sustainable and liveable cities and settlements and would require an investment of USD 101.84mn.  

It includes uptake of small-scale renewable energy, improved waste management practices and standards, sustainable infrastructure and integrated urban planning and development and the prioritized mitigation measures will lead to a cumulative mitigation potential of up to 4,122 metric tons of CO2e. 

Moreover, LEDS 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. 

It is estimated that GHG emissions from industries is projected to grow by almost a factor of three by 2035 under a business-as-usual scenario and mitigation potential for industries is estimated between 999 and 1,137 metric tons of CO2e per annum based on the grid emission factor till 2030.

The 2nd NDC states that a requirement of an estimated USD 3.52mn for the initial support needs for facilitating and creating an enabling environment to implement the LEDS for industry such as capacity building, detailed technical assessments and studies, policy and regulatory measures.  

Meanwhile, LEDS for surface transport provides strategic intervention options for transport and mobility through the implementation of sustainable transport modalities including promotion of mass transit, low emission vehicles and non-motorised transport. 

It has been identified that surface transport is the primary source of GHG emission in the country, responsible for over 424, 830 metric tons of CO2e emission in 2015. 

LEDS for surface transport’s mitigation measures have a cumulative mitigation potential of 5,283 metric tons of CO2e and require an overall transport investment of USD 3,233mn till 2030.  

Moreover, achieving Zero Waste Bhutan whereby the current trend of disposing over 80% to the landfill is reversed to less than 20% by the year 2030, sustainable hydropower development, alternative renewable energy, developing green hydrogen roadmap, energy efficiency policy and cooperative mechanisms to achieve sustainable development and mitigation ambitions are also included in the 2nd NDCs. 

Bhutan’s first National Adaptation Plan is expected to be completed and submitted in 2021 and will be the basis of Bhutan’s Adaptation Communication to convey our priorities, plans, actions, and support needs for adaptation.  

It will cover priority needs and actions in the areas of water, agriculture, forests and biodiversity, and health.

The 2nd NDCs outlines Bhutan’s raised climate ambition ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, scheduled to take place in Glasgow, UK this November.

Bhutan submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the Paris Agreement in September 2015. On ratification of the Paris Agreement in September, 2017, the INDC became Bhutan’s first NDCs.

Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu