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Tackling climate change will be a challenge

Draft Climate Change Policy says that there should be a Climate Change Act, which would ensure coherent and clear implementation of national climate priorities in line with international obligations.

Bhutan is among the 174 countries that signed the Paris Agreement for Climate Change on April 22 in 2016. The agreement aims to hold the  rise in the global average temperature to well below 2 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

But, more importantly, we must know that Bhutan is vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. That was Bhutan’s statement at a convention in Paris and pinned its hope in the agreement that provides the best hope to collectively meet the challenges of climate change.

The policy and Act together could proffer us strategic guidance and tools to identify and address the challenges and opportunities of climate change in an efficient and effective manner. That is why the recommendation of the policy carries some serious weight. For a society that rests precariously on a fragile mountain environment, adapting to climate change is the best option. And that will require transformative actions and approaches through efficient resource and energy use.

The good thing is that we have time in our hands still. It will, therefore, be all the more worthwhile if we hurry with earnest minds to develop for ourselves a set of laws and tools that will empower us to act.

What we must recognise is that 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. Agriculture, the sector that employs more than 60 percent of the population has already begun experiencing the impact of climate change. A local research shows 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.

These are significant warnings.

For Bhutan, climate change and its impacts will be serious. Our worth as a society will be measured by how well we are able to tackle them. It is in this light that Climate Change Act is critically important.

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