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Draft policy asks for a climate Act

The Climate Change Policy, which is in its first draft with the National Environment Commission, calls for the country to enact a Climate Change Act.

It has been found that such an Act is required to ensure coherent and clear implementation of national climate priorities in line with international obligations.

Bhutan, along with 174 countries, signed the Paris Agreement for Climate Change on April 22 in 2016. The agreement aims to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below two degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Bhutan’s national statement delivered at the occasion highlighted its vulnerability to the adverse impacts of climate change and stated that the Paris Agreement provides the best hope to collectively meet the challenges of climate change.

Formulated to fulfil Bhutan’s commitments to the Paris Agreement, the policy aims to provide strategic guidance and tools to identify and address the challenges and opportunities of climate change in an efficient and effective manner.

It will also ensure that Bhutan remains carbon neutral, and protect the wellbeing of the Bhutanese by adapting to climate change.

One of the measures identified in the policy is to pursue transformative actions and approaches to decouple green house gas emissions from economic growth through improved efficiency in resource and energy use.

The policy is expected to ensure that the proposed measures to address the challenges and opportunities of climate change are addressed through adequate means of implementation including finance, technology, capacity building and awareness, and integration into relevant plans and policies.

The policy aims to ensure meaningful participation of all relevant stakeholders in climate change action in a coordinated and coherent manner with clear roles and responsibilities.

According to National Adaption Programme of Action for climate change documents, Bhutan’s development is highly dependent on climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, forestry, and hydropower. The most significant impact of climate change in Bhutan is the formation of supra-glacial lakes due to the accelerated retreat of glaciers with increasing temperatures.

Local research in agriculture show that places like Paro, Thimphu and Chukha that grow apples today could become unsuitable to produce the cash crop by 2050 due to climate change.

The country has 2.73 million hectares of forest cover, which is 71 percent of the total geographical area of the country. About 60 percent of Bhutanese depend on agriculture.

NEC will continue to function as the high level National Climate Change Committee (NCCC). It will consider all policy and regulatory matters on climate change and provide overall guidance on the Climate Change Policy and ensure that the policy is implemented by all sectors.

A Climate Change Coordination Committee will act as the technical body to serve as a forum for discussion and coordination of matters related to climate change in Bhutan and makes recommendations for consideration by the NCCC.

Tshering Palden

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