Bhutan has most ambitious emissions pledge

A new tool was launched yesterday at the UN climate summit in Paris that allows users to compare the emissions pledges of countries or blocks of countries. It shows that some of the smallest states like Bhutan are most serious about addressing climate change.

Produced by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECUI), the Comparator Tool is one of the comprehensive resources for information on countries’ progress and pledges on climate change and renewable energy, known as intended nationally determined contributions or INDCs, writes ECUI in a news release.

Richard Black, director of the ECIU, said that the tool enables people to look beyond existing metrics on climate and low-carbon technologies to reveal some surprising results.

For instance, it shows that Paraguay leads the world in low-carbon energy by already generating almost 100 per cent renewable energy. Most of their electricity is derived from hydropower, which it also exports to neighbouring countries.

A comparison of G20 states shows that France derives the highest percentage of energy from low-carbon sources, including nuclear power, at 46.7 per cent. Canada comes in next at 23.3 per cent, followed by the UK at 10.8 per cent.

The tool also reveals the massive growth in solar power in recent years: thirteen G20 states have experienced a more than 100 per cent increase in their solar capacity since 2013, and South Africa’s has grown per capita by over 1,000 per cent in the past three years alone.

One of its more interesting revelations is that tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has submitted the most ambitious INDC among the 180 UN member states.

Bhutan’s environmental credentials are already well established. The country has long been admired for its Gross National Happiness index, which assesses all projects and policies according to sustainable development, preservation of cultural values, environmental conservation and good governance, and it recently became the world record holder for the most trees planted in one hour (nearly 50,000).

Bhutan is also already a carbon sink, absorbing three times more CO2 emissions than its 700,000 population produces, reports the Guardian. And as ECUI’s tool reveals, the country plans to increase forest cover and combat the growth of a car culture to tackle climate change.

“As a small state high in the Himalayas, Bhutan faces disruption to water supplies, extreme weather and impacts on ecosystems as a result of changes to the climate, so it is in their interests to address the problem both domestically and through the UN climate process,” explained Black.

The tool uses information from the UN, World Bank and World Resources Institute and is updated whenever new information becomes available.


Photo credit: Curt Carnemark/World Bank, flickr

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