Bhutan, the happiest country in the world, is not only carbon neutral but carbon negative.
Paro Taktsang, a sacred Buddhist site and temple complex in Bhutan.
Being carbon neutral means that you can offset or balance out the amount of carbon you produce. Being carbon negative, meanwhile, means that you are able to remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than the amount that you actually produce. For several countries, becoming carbon neutral is a goal they hope to attain within a certain timeframe, usually over a decade. Bhutan, however, has already gone beyond carbon neutrality.
King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who also goes by the unassailably cool title of Druk Gyalpo, or Dragon King of Bhutan, built his country’s Gross National Happiness Index on four pillars. These pillars are good governance, cultural preservation, sustainable development, and, of course, environmental protection. Even more impressive is that the country has remained carbon negative even with a rising tourism industry. Then again, tourists can actually contribute to the country’s conservation by visiting.
Bhutan is a small, isolated nation squeezed in between two large, heavily industrialized countries--China and India. The country has never been colonized in its known history, despite its prime location of being right on the Silk Road. It was only in 2008 that the country transformed its system of government from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy.
Bhutan maintains greenery over 60% of its landmass.
The only countries whose citizens can go to Bhutan without a visa are India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives, which means getting into the country isn’t so simple for most other people. A visa costs $40, but the Minimum Daily Package Fee that tourists need to pay costs $200 to $250. However, this package already includes costs for three-star hotels, meals, taxes and fees, a licensed tour guide, domestic travel fees, and even camping equipment. More importantly, $65 of this package goes to the country’s social services.
Sustainability has become a vital part of the tiny country’s national identity. According to its constitution, 60% of the country’s landmass is to be maintained and protected as a forest. One way the country has managed to do this is to control tourism and keep its impact low. This, along with the ones mentioned above, are all the ways that a country that is already the happiest in the world has managed to become carbon neutral.
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