Dialogue: It is time Bhutan started translating assessments and studies done so far on combating climate change into action, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said.

He said there are already numerous assessments within sectors that point towards strategies and policies for clean and green socio-economic development in Bhutan.

Lyonchoen called for action at the high level opening session of the ‘Dialogue on Climate Resilient and Carbon Neutral Development’ yesterday in Thimphu.

Green transport and clean production in industries, along with capacity building provided to both government and private sector stakeholders, was cited as an example of one of the assessments.

However, lyonchoen said, Bhutan can do more to translate strategies and trainings that are developed into concrete action.

“It’s now time to implement the various actions that have been identified in our numerous existing policies and strategies,” he said. “Climate change is a reality and an enormous environment and development challenge.”

Lyonchoen also said that Bhutan’s small economy was highly dependent on climate sensitive sectors like hydropower and agriculture. “This makes the country even more vulnerable to a changing climate,” he said. “We’re already witnessing increasing extreme events like windstorms and flash floods.”

This year (2015), he said, is a critical year for climate action and the world anticipates a new climate agreement from Paris in December.

All countries, including Bhutan, will submit their commitments, “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by October this year.

Participants yesterday presented activities that each of them are currently carrying out to mitigate and adapt to climate change in the country.

Senior environment officer at National Environment Commission’s (NEC) climate change division, Tshewang Dorji, said that impact of climate change was visible in Bhutan.  He said, in the last few decades, part of southern Bhutan was getting wetter, while the northern parts was getting warmer.

Despite all contributions in combating climate change, Bhutan’s contribution was negligible in the global scenario.

Some of the new renewable energy programmes that the economic affairs ministry is carrying out for a green economy are – a feasibility study on a 30 megawatt mega solar power plant in Shingkhar, Bumthang and a pro-feasibility study for four-small hydropower projects.

To promote development of environmentally sustainable, culturally vibrant, economically strong and highly live-able human settlement, the works and human settlement ministry is also drafting a human settlement policy.

NEC organised the three-day dialogue.

Nirmala Pokhrel