This country isn’t just carbon neutral — it’s carbon negative | Tshering Tobgay
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This country isn’t just carbon neutral — it’s carbon negative | Tshering Tobgay

September 11, 2019


In case you are wondering, no, I’m not wearing a dress, and no, I’m not saying
what I’m wearing underneath. (Laughter) This is a gho. This is my national dress. This is how all men dress in Bhutan. That is how our women dress. Like our women, we men get to wear pretty bright colors, but unlike our women, we get to show off our legs. (Laughter) Our national dress is unique, but this is not the only thing
that’s unique about my country. Our promise to remain
carbon neutral is also unique, and this is what I’d like
to speak about today, our promise to remain carbon neutral. But before I proceed,
I should set you the context. I should tell you our story. Bhutan is a small country
in the Himalayas. We’ve been called Shangri-La, even the last Shangri-La. But let me tell you right off the bat,
we are not Shangri-La. My country is not one big monastery populated with happy monks. (Laughter) The reality is that
there are barely 700,000 of us sandwiched between two
of the most populated countries on earth, China and India. The reality is that we are a small,
underdeveloped country doing our best to survive. But we are doing OK. We are surviving. In fact, we are thriving, and the reason we are thriving
is because we’ve been blessed with extraordinary kings. Our enlightened monarchs
have worked tirelessly to develop our country, balancing economic growth carefully with social development,
environmental sustainability and cultural preservation, all within the framework
of good governance. We call this holistic approach
to development “Gross National Happiness,” or GNH. Back in the 1970s, our fourth king famously
pronounced that for Bhutan, Gross National Happiness is more important
than Gross National Product. (Applause) Ever since, all development in Bhutan
is driven by GNH, a pioneering vision
that aims to improve the happiness and well-being of our people. But that’s easier said than done, especially when you are one
of the smallest economies in the world. Our entire GDP is less
than two billion dollars. I know that some of you here
are worth more — (Laughter) individually than the entire economy of my country. So our economy is small, but here is where it gets interesting. Education is completely free. All citizens are guaranteed
free school education, and those that work hard
are given free college education. Healthcare is also completely free. Medical consultation,
medical treatment, medicines: they are all provided by the state. We manage this because we use our limited
resources very carefully, and because we stay faithful
to the core mission of GNH, which is development with values. Our economy is small,
and we must strengthen it. Economic growth is important, but that economic growth must not come
from undermining our unique culture or our pristine environment. Today, our culture is flourishing. We continue to celebrate
our art and architecture, food and festivals, monks and monasteries. And yes, we celebrate
our national dress, too. This is why I can wear my gho with pride. Here’s a fun fact: you’re looking
at the world’s biggest pocket. (Laughter) It starts here, goes around the back, and comes out from inside here. In this pocket we store all manner of personal goods from phones and wallets to iPads, office files and books. (Laughter) (Applause) But sometimes — sometimes even precious cargo. So our culture is flourishing, but so is our environment. 72 percent of my country
is under forest cover. Our constitution demands
that a minimum of 60 percent of Bhutan’s total land
shall remain under forest cover for all time. (Applause) Our constitution, this constitution, imposes forest cover on us. Incidentally, our king
used this constitution to impose democracy on us. You see, we the people
didn’t want democracy. We didn’t ask for it, we didn’t demand it, and we certainly didn’t fight for it. Instead, our king imposed democracy on us by insisting that he include it
in the constitution. But he went further. He included provisions in the constitution that empower the people
to impeach their kings, and included provisions in here
that require all our kings to retire at the age of 65. (Applause) Fact is, we already have
a king in retirement: our previous king, the Great Fourth, retired 10 years ago at the peak of his popularity. He was all of 51 years at that time. So as I was saying, 72 percent of our country
is under forest cover, and all that forest is pristine. That’s why we are one of the few remaining global biodiversity hotspots in the world, and that’s why we are
a carbon neutral country. In a world that is threatened
with climate change, we are a carbon neutral country. Turns out, it’s a big deal. Of the 200-odd countries
in the world today, it looks like we are the only one that’s carbon neutral. Actually, that’s not quite accurate. Bhutan is not carbon neutral. Bhutan is carbon negative. Our entire country generates
2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide, but our forests, they sequester
more than three times that amount, so we are a net carbon sink for more than four million tons
of carbon dioxide each year. But that’s not all. (Applause) We export most
of the renewable electricity we generate from our fast-flowing rivers. So today, the clean energy that we export offsets about six million tons
of carbon dioxide in our neighborhood. By 2020, we’ll be exporting
enough electricity to offset 17 million tons
of carbon dioxide. And if we were to harness
even half our hydropower potential, and that’s exactly what we are working at, the clean, green energy that we export would offset something like
50 million tons of carbon dioxide a year. That is more CO2 than what the entire city
of New York generates in one year. So inside our country,
we are a net carbon sink. Outside, we are offsetting carbon. And this is important stuff. You see, the world is getting warmer, and climate change is a reality. Climate change is affecting my country. Our glaciers are melting, causing flash floods and landslides, which in turn are causing disaster
and widespread destruction in our country. I was at that lake recently. It’s stunning. That’s how it looked 10 years ago, and that’s how it looked 20 years ago. Just 20 years ago, that lake didn’t exist. It was a solid glacier. A few years ago, a similar lake breached its dams and wreaked havoc in the valleys below. That destruction
was caused by one glacier lake. We have 2,700 of them to contend with. The point is this: my country and my people have done nothing to contribute to global warming, but we are already bearing the brunt
of its consequences. And for a small, poor country,
one that is landlocked and mountainous, it is very difficult. But we are not going to sit
on our hands doing nothing. We will fight climate change. That’s why we have promised
to remain carbon neutral. We first made this promise in 2009 during COP 15 in Copenhagen, but nobody noticed. Governments were so busy
arguing with one another and blaming each other
for causing climate change, that when a small country
raised our hands and announced, “We promise to remain
carbon neutral for all time,” nobody heard us. Nobody cared. Last December in Paris, at COP 21, we reiterated our promise to remain carbon neutral
for all time to come. This time, we were heard. We were noticed, and everybody cared. What was different in Paris
was that governments came round together to accept the realities of climate change, and were willing to come together
and act together and work together. All countries, from the very small
to the very large, committed to reduce
the greenhouse gas emissions. The UN Framework Convention
on Climate Change says that if these so-called
intended commitments are kept, we’d be closer
to containing global warming by two degrees Celsius. By the way, I’ve requested the TED organizers here to turn up the heat in here
by two degrees, so if some of you
are feeling warmer than usual, you know who to blame. It’s crucial that all of us
keep our commitments. As far as Bhutan is concerned, we will keep our promise
to remain carbon neutral. Here are some of the ways we are doing it. We are providing free electricity
to our rural farmers. The idea is that, with free electricity,
they will no longer have to use firewood to cook their food. We are investing in sustainable transport and subsidizing the purchase
of electric vehicles. Similarly, we are subsidizing
the cost of LED lights, and our entire government
is trying to go paperless. We are cleaning up our entire country
through Clean Bhutan, a national program, and we are planting trees
throughout our country through Green Bhutan, another national program. But it is our protected areas that are at the core
of our carbon neutral strategy. Our protected areas are our carbon sink. They are our lungs. Today, more than half
our country is protected, as national parks, nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries. But the beauty is that we’ve connected
them all with one another through a network of biological corridors. Now, what this means is that our animals are free
to roam throughout our country. Take this tiger, for example. It was spotted
at 250 meters above sea level in the hot, subtropical jungles. Two years later, that same tiger was spotted near 4,000 meters in our cold alpine mountains. Isn’t that awesome? (Applause) We must keep it that way. We must keep our parks awesome. So every year, we set aside resources
to prevent poaching, hunting, mining and pollution in our parks, and resources to help communities
who live in those parks manage their forests, adapt to climate change, and lead better lives while continuing
to live in harmony with Mother Nature. But that is expensive. Over the next few years,
our small economy won’t have the resources to cover all the costs that are required
to protect our environment. In fact, when we run the numbers, it looks like it’ll take us
at least 15 years before we can fully finance
all our conservation efforts. But neither Bhutan, nor the world can afford to spend 15 years
going backwards. This is why His Majesty the King started Bhutan For Life. Bhutan For Life gives us the time we need. It gives us breathing room. It is essentially a funding mechanism to look after our parks, to protect our parks, until our government
can take over on our own fully. The idea is to raise a transition fund from individual donors,
corporations and institutions, but the deal is closed only
after predetermined conditions are met and all funds committed. So multiparty, single closing: an idea we borrowed from Wall Street. This means that individual donors
can commit without having to worry that they’ll be left
supporting an underfunded plan. It’s something like a Kickstarter project, only with a 15-year time horizon and millions of tons
of carbon dioxide at stake. Once the deal is closed, we use the transition fund
to protect our parks, giving our government time
to increase our own funding gradually until the end of the 15-year period. After that, our government
guarantees full funding forever. We are almost there. We expect to close later this year. Naturally, I’m pretty excited. (Applause) The World Wildlife Fund
is our principle partner in this journey, and I want to give them a big shoutout for the excellent work
they are doing in Bhutan and across the world. (Applause) Whew, it is getting warm in here. I thank you for listening to our story, a story of how we are keeping
our promise to remain carbon neutral, a story of how we are keeping
our country pristine, for ourselves, our children, for your children and for the world. But we are not here
to tell stories, are we? We are here to dream together. So in closing, I’d like to share
one more dream that I have. What if we could mobilize
our leadership and our resources, our influence and our passion, to replicate the Bhutan For Life idea
to other countries so that they too can conserve their
protected areas for all time. After all, there are many other countries
who face the same issues that we face. They too have natural resources that can help win the world’s fight
for sustainability, only they may not have the ability
to invest in them now. So what if we set up Earth For Life, a global fund, to kickstart
the Bhutan For Life throughout the world? I invite you to help me, to carry this dream beyond our borders to all those who care
about our planet’s future. After all, we’re here to dream together, to work together, to fight climate change together,
to protect our planet together. Because the reality is we are in it together. Some of us might dress differently, but we are in it together. Thank you very much, and kadrin chhe la. Thank you. (Applause) Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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  1. The UN's World Economic Forum (includes this channel & others) are all about how to become like Communist China. This speaker (putz & liar ) is in on it…
    İT AİNT HAPPENİNG, SWAMP CREATURES. You depend on USA taxpayers… program success depends on TAX THEFT FROM RICH COUNTRIES.
    NOTHING IS FREE ASSHOLES. THE EMPLOYED PAY GOVT. TAXES THROUGH THE NOSE TO ALLOW COLLECTIVIST GOVT. TO MAKE DECISIONS INSTEAD OF INDIVIDUALS (YOU) ON HOW TO SPEND YOUR MONEY (TAXES) ON OTHER PEOPLE WHO DON'T WORK. THESE UNEMPLOYED FREELOADERS ARE REWARDED BY BEING ALLOWED TO BE FREELOADERS SO THEY KEEP ELECTING THE COMMUNIST TOTALITARIAN GOVT. CLIMATE CHANGE CAN NOT BE CONTROLLED BY HUMANITY, YOU MORON! CARBON SINKS ARE PART OF A NETWORK OF BIG GLOBAL CORPORATIONS PROFITTING BY STOCK MARKET (PAPER CASINO) TRADING ON THE INTANGIBLE, INCOMPREHENSIBLE CONCEPT OF CARBON SINKS. Such bullshit for stupid and ignorant people.

  2. I’m proud to be a Bhutanese. My country has unique qualities which no other countries have. We have clean air, fresh drinking water and beautiful sceneries of the mountains and landscapes. People are religious and the first thing we pray is the happiness and well-being for all living beings on earth. I’m happy that we don’t have to pay huge amount of money to go to the hospitals. We conserve our natural resources and biodiversity as much as we can. You can experience everything especially the myths in Bhutan. It’s a sacred place and monasteries with beautiful architectural design. Our national dress is beautiful as well as expensive. People watch different kinds of movies and serials from other countries. We have interest in exploring others culture and traditions.

  3. Im from your neighbour country Nepal . . I had study some sort of staff about bhutan in my earlier high school but never knew these things . . Huge respect to Bhutanese 😍😍 i would love to visit this country if i earn currency in future 😉

  4. We've shamefully plundered the life sustaining resources from our biosphere.
    Not knowing that each individual life force "were poisoning and consuming".
    Consists of
    6 lepton fields,
    6 quark fields,
    4 gluon fields,
    and the Higgs field,
    life is 17 fields.
    Balanced by an equal amount of antimatter fields or waves?.
    17 individual complete quantum fields.
    And so.
    As space dust, our journey started in the big bang.
    The great explosion and the great expansion that subcquently created Matter, the building blocks of this universe.
    So our space dust has journeyed through space and time.
    And were all 13.7 billion years old.
    Happy birthday.
    Were all alien DNA, ameno acids and space fields. Each field has a different relationship with the biosphere. Also each field has different relationship with the solar system.
    Beyond this this metric I'm open to all evidence.
    Blessings from Llandudno Conwy Wales.
    Northeast Atlantic ocean.
    On this blue green marble dot.
    Hanging and spinning precariously in some clockwise cosmic universal dance.
    Charting a new course away from the unknown centre of our universe.
    Carrying the dreams the asperations and the spirits.
    Of our past, present and future.
    May you wake with the thunder to move mountains.
    Rebuild your community's and act like a Beacon in to a safe harbour.
    For all them lost in this cosmic dance.

  5. meanwhile in PH,

    we're concerned with showbiz and politics fusing together, politician's policy is family first before the people…

    they also tackle every hyped up media stories for them to show off but doesnt care about the national concern regarding our agriculture's current status because you know, media and showbiz is life here. the more your face frequents the media, the higher chance you stay in politics or enter it.

  6. Every other country: "How do we get rich and take over everything?"
    Bhutan: "How do we maintain a healthy and happy community?"

  7. The Earth is near its lowest historic level of CO2 (carbon-dioxide) a bit lower and plants will start dying…this is reality.. it is real science. Plants thrive on CO2 and we thrive on plants. Please get a scientific education people…this is not about politics..it is about survival…the environment and happiness. We cannot do a thing about global climate but we can stop pollution. CO2 is not a pollutant, it is life giving. Stupidity is forever, ignorance can be over come.

  8. Not too happy of a place for the Lhotshampa people their government expelled. Or the Gay's either since it is illegal there.

  9. Not too hard to be Carbon negative when you make nothing and are dependent on the rest of the world for everything. They get handouts almost every western nation and have the nerve to lecture us on "Climate Change" GTFO

  10. Ironic that he claims Bhutan is the only carbon neutral/negative country in the world but where this talk is being given, Canada, is also a carbon negative country. The National Parks system alone is over 340,000 sq. km which is almost 10 times larger than the entire country of Bhutan add to this 990,000 sq. KM of "protected" lands…

  11. i'm so impressed with bhutanese and their government in preserving natural environment and their culture. i dont know why I keep on scrolling and searching about bhutan 🙆🏽. its mesmerizing me a lot. i'd really hope that i can visit bhutan in one fine day. i adore this country damn much!
    love from malaysia.

  12. its been 3 years since this video and nothing has changed, hurricane dorian has essentially wiped the bahamas off the map becuse of climate change

  13. Fun fact the elderly are sent off to cold and old temples without any management and care to eventually die with other old people and they are not getting paid or they can live with their family

  14. Sounds wonderful, and I applaud Bhutan.
    However, implementing GNH in the West would be impossible.
    As stated, GNH is Development with Values.
    With mass immigration, there are no shared values in the west, only factions. America cannot even decide whether we want a small government or an authoritarian one, between the two biggest factions.
    Homogeneous nations are able to unify and accomplish anything. Nations of mixed cultures are doomed to collapse. History has proven this many times.

  15. Bhutan use water as energy source ? This is so genial, i would be proud of my country if it would even take use of water as energy source

  16. The idea of warming up the room by two degrees is stupid, the local temperature is totally different from mean temperature, absolutely different parameters. Otherwise, this country is outstanding, thanks for the conference.

  17. Global Warming..
    Where it is generated ?..and why ?

    Well..it is generated by Industry..and those who can afford to pay and throw.
    Older generation..didt have lots of..f..g cloths..they didt change attire as per fashion…they didt have ipads..iphones..chargers..lap tops..
    So who is to blame.?

    You guessed right.

    Those who are shouting and crying..are to blame..is.."younger" generation.
    They go to cafe..cafe-late..coffe.espresso..and kind of bullshit. I am 70 now. I never heard of it..! Led simple life.
    Ofcourse..younger generation should enjoy..but..if f.f iphone..and ipad..laptops..are needed for that.

    Think again..those who cry..look around yourself..for a day..and collect evey thing non-sense you have gathered..shoes…cloths..electronics..and find out..if you, yourself…………are to blame for the global warming..

  18. Is hes name Greta too?
    i feel sorry for the man standing there making a fool out of himself because someone fooled him.
    hes a good guy im sure, but hes message is malicious

  19. ibhave a lots of friend from bhutan. suCh a good people in my life and one among is Vishnu. a forestry student. now he is server his country.so.many updates in facebook. if you find these. tell to Vishnu. hastag doon times 😘😘😘

  20. What an utter piece of bullshit. So many cars and trucks and planes running on fossile fuels in this tiny nation.

    When you won't let 100,000 people obtain citizenship, so you won't have to build houses, infrastructure etc etc for the next few decades, you can ban lot's of trucks, sure.
    Ever seen an electric crane? Me neither, and neither has Bhutan.

    GIve me a break, hypocrit .

  21. In 2016 Bhutan does this well and is rightfully proud. In 2019 the USA is still one of the biggest countries and biggest part of the problem…

  22. This is one of the best TED Talks I have ever watched! Thank you #Tshering Tobgay for your speech and Bhutan on your vision and mission accomplishments! I wish every country on this planet had similar goals in climate change fight. Let's join our forces, knowledge and 'can do' attitude in order to save our planet! Thank you #Tshering Tobgay for making my day beautiful and hopeful.

  23. Happiness before economic growth, but Bhutan has one of the lowest population densities of any country. The median country has 5 times the population per square km that Bhutan has. The most dense countries have 1000 times the population density. That makes a big difference if you rely on nature to be your carbon sink. You'd have to remove 6 billion people to have the same balance. Thanos snapping his fingers 3 times halving each time to get there.

  24. So you are going to stop the diminishing orbit around the sun? You're going to stop billions of people from using coal? Gas? What exactly are you going to propose that can be done by all people in a way that allows for the same lifestyle and convenience many people live with. If you all jump you might be able to push the planet back into a cooler orbit too.

  25. people in comments: "OMG best country ever we need to be just like them!"

    Bhutan- illegal to be gay, monarchy, child labor..etc.

  26. Turkey, India, China, us, Japan, France, Spain, Germany, Russia, UK, Russia, Australia and Africa. All have the space to plant trees yet they don't. If you see a free space. A forgotten field. Go crazy and plant trees until you're heart is content.

    Never leave soil exposed. Always cover it with mulch. Be it leaves, or wood chip.

  27. It is an interesting phenomena that this country exists. If you think about it the only reason that these royals and the people of Bhutan, is because they sacrifice the ability it expand its borders and quickly improve its economy. This may be because they have such historically large super powers to its north and south in China and Japan. This ideal is beautiful but to provide this ideal on a global scale we would have to break everything we know and slowly improve over perhaps its too late. This raises the question how do we transfer this fantastic idea to a larger global pool.

  28. I want to ask everyone who believe the climte alarmism and specifically the rhetoric around CO2.

    1. Are you willing to use Nuclear Power in place of Fossil Power?

    2. If not what are you willing to give up? If the first world changed entirely to renewable we could probably reliably supply power consistently for Infrastracture such plumbing, Water Treatment, Lighting and maybe refrigeration. For cooking we would have to go back to burning wood. Computer use would have to drastically reduced perhaps to the point where a Central governance assigns a timeslot usage, hot water will not be guarenteed, Smart would have to be defunct and we'd have to return to classic mobile, we probably won't be able to reliably power that infrastructure, maybe for business no personal use.

    2. Can any of you provide evidence that CO2 directly or indirectly actually contributes to climate I have looked at all the evidence publicly available and none of it explains how only that it does, but unfortunately I am not will to take things on faith. I will not accept anything from UN, I've read enough their lies I am not willing to listen same for EU.

    Additional information for Question 2 The Correlation graphs I have seen for CO2 Increase matching Temperature increase is that correlation, and as I am aware, the raw data used to make these claims are not available even when requested for peer review. Correlation is not Causation.

    There have been 3 Ice Ages over the life span of the planet CO2 has consistently dropped from 8000ppm even across the time between Ice Ages (There is a temperature increase across the time between ice ages), that mean there a periods in history where there is an inverse Correlation for CO2 the planets average temperature.

    3. What is an accepable level of CO2? If we are to believe CO2 has such unholy power over the temperature of the planet should we not also be concerned about it going too low or disappearing altogether. Back to the Ice Age issue, the last Ice Age had the lowest CO2 levels less than 168 ppm and all plant life on the planet was almost wiped out, the equator being the saving grace. Green House's operate at 1000 ppm this is because higher CO2 make planets more resiliant to disease and cold.

  29. This sounds like what Andrew Yang is talking about as a replacement to GDP in the USA. Would be nice if more countries adopted this.

  30. I visited Bhutan 8 days ago with my husband…was too much mesmerized with its greenery, rich culture, traditions costumes smooth and well disciplined traffic rules, hospitality and its cleanliness to next level.
    I am so touched and ignited by Tshering Tobgay's powerful &motivating speech. Let's join our heads hearts and hands together to our mother nature earth preservation like the Royal BHUTAN..

  31. So is the entire moon, but i seriously doubt your carbon free , i see plants and unless you used drones your carbon based life forms ..The Moon got my vote …Damming rivers to make Hydro elc power is one of the most destructive things you can do to the environment… Its why water is such an issue today

  32. Climate change is not real. Imagine if every country became carbon negative then we wouldn't be alive as the trees wouldn't thrive of the carbon we produce.

  33. 'promise to remain carbon neutral' – dim witted peasants – there is no CO2 problem – that's a political agenda and all lies based on falsified data. The sun has entered grand solar minimum and earth is cooling – the global warming crowd will blame humans for the resulting weather extremes because they are opposed to people

  34. Lol I guess all it takes to fool all you people is an accent and a smile.. they believe in “one people one nation” they achieve this by murdering and stealing and running out over a 100,000 people who had lived there for generations 30k of which live in the USA because we took them in as refugees. Most people have no electricity, no right to criticize the government and no way to improve their way of life economically. It’s basically North Korea…. which is also “carbon negative” lol stop Being fools

  35. I started crying at 10:00 then at 14:00 and then at the end. Because it's worth the emotions and worth the action! people like him like you like me, we can change the future it's even worth leaving our comfort zones to protect our children and culture. Respect from Georgia (eastern Europe ) I wish every country acted like you!

  36. I'm assuming the people commenting that Bhutan is the best country in the world is ignoring the ethnic cleansing and property seizures that they engaged in in the 90s of the Lhotshampa people.

  37. This utopia can never happen in the West. Nation states are being dismantled and replaced by cultures that have nothing in common with our own. Time to move to Bhutan. The West is doomed.

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