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

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

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.

Comments (100)

  1. shamely, we are contributing carbon for them….bad really bad

  2. 700,000 people. That's like the island of Manhattan. Give regional government more power. Decentralized, small governments.

  3. We should learn from it

  4. 1000 people dislike d it !!!! Stupid

  5. We all lift together <3

  6. Bhutan is 1:30 hr away from my home.. It's a way more beautiful and cleaner than any other nation.. People are so nice and kind. Love from india 🥰 BTW my fav part is, beer is way cheaper than here in india

  7. Is posible obtain Bhutan residence permit? ??
    I'm from Poland
    Please someone respond
    Great speech great nation !!!

  8. Please, we need to follow their example now more than ever.. Especially with the ongoing situation in the Amazon…

  9. This guy sounds like Asian Arnold schwarzenegger

  10. The depressing part is that most of the World leaders deny climate change

  11. just find this dude too arrogant

  12. what a hot asian woman on 12:23 🙂

  13. Swisstzerland of Asia…

  14. I'm glad trees like carbon. Does that country have no trees

  15. love this man and his country 🙂

  16. love this man and his country 🙂
    this has to be the best ted talk ever

  17. Sir you are great man. You are an inspiration for the world leaders to act on climate change.

  18. Slap on the face of the so called "developed World".

  19. Excellent outstanding inspiring speech hats off to Bhutan and it's people

  20. Reducing atmospheric CO2 will kill us all, we barely have enough for plants to thrive as it is.
    CO2-driven global warming is a hoax.

  21. It's always the countries with small areas that are awesome, I wonder how it relates to each other

  22. Brutal filthy greedy hypocrites & corporates whatch this and change your thought generate in your brain

  23. One nation one country long live ……I m proud to be called as bhutaness ..Thanks for sharing..

  24. Proof that a world like this isn't impossible!!!


  26. I like this guy's humour

  27. Climate change is a Hoax.

  28. The country which is beyond surviving with own resources and great indicative of neutral carbon👏

  29. The best prime Ministers speech

  30. Ladies and gentlemen, the Prime Minister of Bhutan.
    Listen with honour and respect he deserves.

  31. Did anyone notice that free higher education in Bhutan is available to "those who work hard"? In the US the political correctness lobby would fight that tooth and nail. How outrageous! Expecting someone to work for receiving something free.

  32. They were applauding when he said the king was mandated into retirement at age 65. That sounds ageist to me. Would those applauding be applauding if they were forced into retirement at 65?

  33. k im gonna move to bhutan

  34. WOW this is awesome. Happines is now a goverment policy in Bhutan.

  35. "Aims to improving our people's well-being and happiness…"

    But, you're still wearing a dress!
    (Jokes aside, this is very noble; wish more countries and leaders would follow)

  36. Economy is less than ambani antilia house……but the best happiest country

  37. Anyone going to Bhutan….I m planning

  38. Because Bhutan does not has muslim people. They are very poor in mind and chutiya type people. Bcs islam is a dangerous disease but Buddhism is real peace.

  39. Meanwhile he looks like

    Kaecillius ( doctor strange )

  40. Bhutan has Cannabis that grows wild all over it and nobody cares. Pretty much nobody smokes. It’s looked at as an actual weed and a nuisance.

  41. Every country should adopt this carbon neutral

  42. this is a necessary presentation & I suggest we all share this wherever we can to sow the positive example of this beautiful country!

  43. What a beautiful Country. The rest of the world is ruled by GREEDY, MISERABLE POLITICIANS.

  44. Bhutan is the richest country in the world. Money will be just money. See reality for reference

  45. I am from Assam , India. A neighboring country . Last month I visited a small town of Bhutan and astonished to see the natural beauty and cleanliness everywhere. It is really a nice small country .

  46. Going green and going renewable will actually lower the GDP of a country but not necessarily its quality of life (you can have more kilowatt-hours per capita and yet not contribute to CO2 emissions by focusing on green technology), but most countries focus on having high GDP!

  47. This speech was the future. But how many of us really understand the meaning of these words…Environmently sustainable economy…. Gross National Happiness. These should be the basis of policy making around the world otherwise we might be cutting the same branch of the tree, we are sitting on. May God bless this world with compassion for MOTHER EARTH.

  48. They limit who can visit their country because they are RACISTS!! They worship Bhutan superiority!! They do not allow starving refugee children to enter their nation!! They have done NOTHING to assist with the refugee crisis!!

  49. I pray to God that all world leaders will have a clean spirit and a heavenly soul like leaders of Bhutan.       My great respect to you Sir.    I love your country, its government and its people.    ….However, I wonder if you consider the outer-space forces and unexpected, unpredictable universal changes are what driving climate change on this planet?

  50. and the majority of the population are uneducated (59.5% are illiterate) and living in poverty and with a very high infant mortality rate so yeah……if you want to be an ignorant peasant with most of your kids dying in child birth then Yay Bhutan

  51. So…was really impressed by this and in further research found that they deported 100,000 Nepalis in 1992. 18,000 of whom are still refugees… so they care a lot about happiness for their own kind it seems but not so big on tolerance and diversity. Article;

  52. Awesome dialogue however! when the dialogue goes from how we are saving the world to a ply for money lost me there. Global warming is only a man made concern. WE, gotta live somewhere

  53. We read about this in class. My teacher told us that her friend stayed in Bhutan for a few weeks, and when she came back, all her acne had gone away and she was much healthier.

  54. I guess those 1k plus dislikes dont luke the fact that other countries prefer to thrive than to strangle their populous.

  55. Make sure you dont have any oil …. if its there. Pray god to save you 😂😂😂. Agree americans 🤔

  56. Everything you said. It is coming now in 2019
    What can we do to save the Earth ?
    The Earth need all people stand on Earth do something.
    Earth is dyeing.

  57. works only becuase of the small population.

  58. I'm in Central USA, we've had 14 consecutive months of lower than average temperatures. Go ahead and lower CO2…see how long your forests last. Only a very uneducated person would advocate cutting off food of the forest they cherish. Watch what happens as the GSM advances and CO2 plummets….say goodbye to forest, and as go forest, goes oxygen.

  59. If you depend on Wall Street and – YOU already lost it! They are the biggest killers for the world and the human race. Link:

  60. Really love this concept and country Bhutan from Nepal ❤

  61. The one's who disliked are definitely the assholes who still believe climate change isnt real!!

  62. There is a limit to the amount of carbon that a forest can sequester without expanding. Once the amount of biomass reaches its maximum possible amount the old trees will start dieing and then when the decompose they put the carbon back into the atmosphere. Still would love to visit this country though. Sounds nice.

  63. Loved to go there😍bless you all

  64. I have a friend from bhutan, she is amazing,

  65. How wonderful a country which is so marvellous and Buddhist as well. May God bless you all in Bhutan.

  66. This gives me hope…

  67. And on the other side The Amazon is still burning.

  68. I see a country with no whites, no blacks, only asians. So little diversity for this bullshit talk.

  69. I love it when non-scientists replace "carbon dioxide" with "carbon", as if they were the same and interchangeable. It displays their ignorance and you can discount them immediately.

  70. Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product 👏👏 Spread the Happiness 🤗❤️

  71. They are chasing the right thing…happiness, which incidentally is what we are all chasing. But we do through the longer route of chasing wealth and fame and prestige and the ultimate goal is still happiness. What every country needs to do is focus on happiness as the nation's priority.

  72. Not all that difficult to do when you have a single, monolithic culture, to which everyone belongs.

  73. wow, respect from India.

  74. he just wants his country to be free. free from Nepals

  75. Absolutely amazing ❤


  77. 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.

  78. 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.

  79. He Spoke Very clearly!

  80. Bhutan is true Superpower.. now i desperately want to visit Bhutan asap ❤️

  81. Anyone know how far in debt Bhutan is

  82. Lets just eradicate China, India and USA, and put Bhutan in charge of the world.

  83. 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 😉

  84. 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.

  85. 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.

  86. The best video i saw in my life

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

  88. You can't be neutral and negative at the same time. Dam misleading titles.

  89. I wanna go to Bhutan now 😢

  90. 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 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.

  91. DAmn they have uniforms in bhutan

  92. Can I just move there?

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