YK Poudel 

Dubai, UAE—Bhutan, Panama, and Suriname, the first carbon-negative countries globally, advocate for climate finance, emissions reduction, and increased international co-operation to achieve sustainable development goals.

The session titled “Lessons from Carbon Negative Countries: Keeping the Ambition Alive” on December 2 at the Bhutan Pavilion in the ongoing 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) discussed the achievements of Bhutan, Panama and Suriname as the pioneers in carbon negativity, setting a path for others to follow.

Addressing the unprecedented climate crisis, Dasho Chhewang Rinzin, Head of the Bhutanese Delegation at COP28, highlighted Bhutan’s commitment to environmental conservation, maintaining 69.5 percent forest coverage. 

“Countries with low emissions of carbon are also facing the brunt of climate change—the issue must be addressed globally,” Dasho Chhewang said.

He emphasised the challenges faced by economically challenged Bhutan in adequately investing in adaptation and mitigation efforts due to the global impact of climate change.

Dr Ligia Castro de Doens, Director of Climate Change at the Ministry of Environment of Panama, outlined Panama’s measures towards carbon neutrality, with 68 percent of the country under forest cover.She called for regional and international cooperation to achieve climate goals, emphasizing collaboration between governments, countries, and companies.

“Adequate national level projects are in place—the world now needs regional and international co-operation is a call to action. Achieving the climate goals agreed in Paris depends on new levels of collaboration between government, and between countries and companies, to drive down emissions, and to protect everyone on earth with an effective early warning system by 2027,” she said.

Minister of Spatial Planning and the Environment in Suriname, Marciano Dasai, presented Suriname’s carbon-negative status and the existing forest density, presenting opportunities for the carbon market. 

Dasai stressed the need for a just transition from fossil fuels to renewables, emphasizing Suriname’s commitment to zero deforestation by 2030. “The impact is real and happening. We must preserve the limit of 1.5 degrees of heating, as set out in the Paris Agreement, to avert the worst of climate chaos. Till now, we have not met the promise,” he said.

While Suriname has strict forest protection laws and policies, Dasai acknowledged the vulnerability to climate change, calling for increased global co-operation in nature conservation efforts and reduction in carbon emissions.

The three countries collectively called for enhanced contributions to the Loss and Damage Fund and emphasised the importance of international collaboration to address climate change challenges faced by low-emission countries.