Raising 2030 ambition
In its updated NDC, submitted in 2021, Bhutan commits to remaining carbon neutral. According to its third national communication to UNFCCC, Bhutan’s carbon sink capacity in 2015 was 7.8 MtCO₂e (after converting in to GWP AR4), which means that to remain carbon neutral, it would need to keep emissions below 7.8 MtCO₂e. Bhutan’s BAU emissions level translates into an increase in emissions of 78–80% above 2015 levels by 2030 (excluding LULUCF).
Bhutan’s current policies and action have been rated compatible with a 1.5°C trajectory by the Climate Action Tracker] While Bhutan’s first NDC covered broad priority action areas, its updated NDC further elaborates priority mitigation actions in the form of a low emissions development strategy (LEDS) for food security, human settlement, transport and industry. The mitigation actions are conditional on international financial support. If Bhutan implements the measures listed in its NDC and LEDS, its emissions would increase much less, by 7–21% above 2015 levels by 2030(excluding LULUCF).
1.5°C compatible pathways would require Bhutan to reach emissions levels of 1.7–2.3 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030, a reduction of around 26% below 2015 levels by 2030 (excluding LULUCF). The country would need international support to implement its planned mitigation measures.
Long term pathway
1.5°C compatible pathways for Bhutan indicate that the country will need to reduce its GHG emissions by 46–79% below 2015 levels (or reach 0.5–1.2 MtCO₂e) by 2050, excluding LULUCF.
As part of its updated NDC, submitted in July 2021, Bhutan sets an indicative goal of reaching net zero GHG emissions by 2050. While Bhutan has not submitted a long-term strategy (LTS) to the UNFCCC as of April 2023, its updated NDC aims to maintain carbon neutrality. Within the NDC document, the government has developed Low Emissions Development Strategies (LEDS) for transport, industrial, human settlement, and food sectors outlining how Bhutan aims to maintain carbon neutrality. Yet, the net zero goal outlined in the LEDS relies, at least partially, on emissions credits gained by exporting renewable hydropower to India.