The small Asian country of Bhutan is south of the Himalayan mountains. The predominantly Buddhist population is about 797,000 and, years ago, the nation made a promise to strive toward being carbon-neutral. While this is ambitious, Bhutan has managed not only to achieve that goal, but surpass it.
Today, Bhutan is the world's only carbon-negative nation, according to Climate Council. This means that the carbon emissions produced in the country are negative due to the generation and exportation of Bhutan's renewable energy.
Their secret? It's simple -- Bhutan just has a ton of trees. The country's constitution requires a minimum of 60 percent of the land to be forests. Currently, 72 percent of the land is under forest cover.
According to Climate Council, Bhutan generates 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide, but the forest uses three times the amount of CO2 each year. So there is a net carbon sink of more than 4 million tons of CO2.
But it's not just the trees -- the country also has invested in renewable energy by using its river sources to generate hydro energy. The government has also transitioned to be entirely paperless and has invested in sustainable transport, electric vehicles, energy lights and national programs aimed at going green and diminishing waste, according to Climate Council.
Bhutan's holistic approach to life is also one of the reasons the nation has achieved such high levels of environment sustainability. Instead of using the Gross Domestic Product Index (GDP) to measure development as most countries do, Bhutan uses their own system, the Gross National Happiness Index, to measure its development and values.
According to Climate Council, "this vision aims to improve the happiness and well-being of the people environmentally, socio-culturally and economically." Essentially, this Bhutan system is unique in that it does not undermine the nation's environment in order to achieve economic growth.
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