We take pride in Bhutan being the champion of the environment and the only carbon-neutral country on earth. That’s all right. But the reality is shifting fast. With the kind and speed of development that we are witnessing, the challenge ahead is monumental. According to some estimates, greenhouse gas (GHG) emission from the transport sector could triple by 2030.

According to the country’s second national communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2011, GHG emissions from the transport sector accounted for about 20 percent of the country’s total emissions in 2000. By the end of 2012, it increased to about 30 percent.

We are exceedingly good at painting good picture of ourselves. Our leaders go around the world talking good about our policies and initiatives. That’s all very well, too, but how true are we to our hallowed dreams? Getting it real is more important than burying ourselves deep under delusion.

Plastic ban is the point of reference.

Already, in the country’s growing urban areas, particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide pose a major public health concern.

The major sources of air pollutants are passenger cars and heavy-duty vehicles. This accounts for 73 percent of total vehicles in the country responsible for 70 to 90 percent of local pollutant and nearly 60 percent of GHG emission.

And then we are talking about vehicle quota for civil servants, the biggest contributor in the rise of number of vehicles in the country. Based on current trends of vehicle acquisition and fuel import standards, and without any policy interventions, vehicle inventory in Bhutan is projected to increase to 180,000 by 2030. With this, emissions from the domestic transport sector may reach 660,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2030.

We may do well by going slow on the talking, once for a while, and look to our inherent problems. Politicians must stop advertising vehicle quota for civil servants, which is no more relevant. The time has arrived when our incentivisation processes and methods ought to have improved and is more meaningful.

In the last three months, Bhutan has imported close to 2,000 vehicles. According to the Second Quarterly Info-Comm and Transport Statistics 2019, there are 103,814 cars in the country today. And the number is expected to increase.

Let us do a little less talking and do more to make our environment a little more cleaner. Let us be true to our words, all in all.