Historical emissions for the period 1994-2020 are from the national GHG inventory reporting from Bhutan’s first Biennial Update Report (BUR1) (Royal Government of Bhutan 2022). The BUR1 covers emissions from the three main GHGs (CO2, CH4 and N2O) and some F-gases (HFCs, but not PFCs, NF3 or SF6).
To complete the timeseries for the period 1990-1993, we have applied sectoral growth rates from the PRIMAPhist data series for Bhutan to the BUR1 data (Gütschow et al. 2022). We have not used PRIMAP growth rates to estimate emissions in 2021 as alternative methods produced more accurate results. PRIMAP data shows emissions essentially unchanged from 2019 levels in 2020 and a slight 2% increase in 2021. By contrast, government data reports an 18% drop in emissions (excluding LULUCF) in 2020 – which is more consistent with the economic slowdown the country experienced. As the economy continued to contract in 2021, we would expect emissions to fall as well.
2021-2022 historical emissions estimate
Energy and industry emissions for 2021 and 2022 are calculated using IMF GDP growth rates as a proxy for emission growth rates (IMF 2022). We assume that the pandemic had minimal impact on the agriculture and waste sectors, so we use a pre-COVID 5-year trend (2015-2019) to estimate emissions for 2021 and 2022. For reference, Bhutan reported a 4-5% drop in those sectors in 2020, compared to a 20-25% drop in energy and industry emissions.
LULUCF emissions data for the period 1994-2020 is taken from the First Biennial Update Report (Royal Government of Bhutan 2022).
NDC and other targets
Bhutan’s NDC target is to remain carbon neutral. In other words, Bhutan must keep emissions below the level of its LULUCF sink. In its second NDC, Bhutan states that its LULUCF sink is based on 2015 as its base year; it uses the same estimate in its Third National Communication (NC3) (Royal Government of Bhutan 2021, 2020a). Bhutan reported a net LULUCF sink of 7.8 MtCO2e in its NC3 (Royal Government of Bhutan 2020a). We use this estimate for our NDC quantification. It is worth nothing that Bhutan reported a larger net sink capacity of 8.9 MtCO2e in its first Biennial Report (Royal Government of Bhutan 2022). If Bhutan were to update the source of its carbon neutral target to this document, it could, in theory, allow for even further emissions growth.
We do not use the NDC emissions estimate for our CAT ratings (see Targets tab for the full explanation). Instead, we rate where Bhutan’s emissions will be in 2030 under a business-as-usual trajectory against Bhutan’s fair share contribution level. We rate where Bhutan’s emissions will be in 2030 if its sectoral measures are fully implemented against where its emissions would need to be based on global least cost modelled pathway for 1.5°C.
CAT estimate for rating against fair share
The methods used to develop a BAU projection for Bhutan are described in the ‘current policy projection’ section below. We use the upper range of the estimate as the basis for the rating.
CAT estimate for rating against modelled domestic pathways
We use mitigation potentials provided in Bhutan’s second NDC and its sectoral LEDS to estimate where Bhutan’s 2030 emissions would be if it receives the necessary support (Royal Government of Bhutan 2021; Ministry of Information and Communications 2021; Ministry of Works and Human Settlement 2021; Ministry of Economic Affairs 2021a; Ministry of Agriculture and Forests 2021). The estimates are cumulative potential for the decade, so we divide by 10 to derive an annual figure for 2030. We subtract these estimates from our BAU projections and rate the upper end of the range.
Several measures included in the LEDS for human settlement and industries quantify the mitigation potential based on emissions avoided through enhanced export of renewable energy to India (thereby displacing more GHG intensive sources of power). We exclude these emissions reductions as they occur outside of Bhutan’s borders.
The measures included in our quantifications are:
- Reductant substitution by biogenic charcoal
- Cement blending
- Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) use in cement plants
- Direct hot charging
For human settlement:
- Replacement of LPG and firewood by electricity
- Increase in composting and recycling
- Wastewater management
Bhutan does not provide a breakdown of the emissions reductions associated with shifting to electric cookstoves from LPG and firewood. We use the estimates provided in the LEDS for the 2019 share of each source and assume that LPG will produce roughly twice as many emissions to derive the LPG share. The mitigation potential is based on a 50/50 grid factor split with India, so we double the estimate to consider only the impact in Bhutan.
The mitigation potential provided for transport section actions differs between the NDC and the LEDS. We take the estimate in the LEDS as it is more clearly linked to measures that would be implemented provided sufficient support is made available.
Bhutan’s second NDC uses Global Warming Potentials from the IPCC’s Second Assessment Report (SAR). As the NDC refers to a number of LEDS estimates, we assume that the LEDS also use SAR values, though this is not explicitly stated in those reports. No information was given on the gas-by-gas breakdown. We have assumed that the mitigation potential relates to CO2 emissions only for transport and industry and thus no conversion is needed.
For agriculture, we used the same approach adopted for our current policy projections (see below) and a 4:1 split between CH4 and N2O for the rest of the measures proposed.
For the human settlement sector, we used the same approach adopted for our current policy projections (see below) for the composting and wastewater management and assume that the electric cookstove relates to CO2 only.
Net zero target
Bhutan is carbon neutral and has committed to remaining so. We include Bhutan in our Optimistic scenario as part of our 2100 temperature warming estimates; however, we do not quantify a separate long-term emissions target for Bhutan but rather include them in a conservative global estimate.
Current policy projections
To estimate Bhutan’s emissions under current policies, we subtracted the estimated mitigation potential for policies for which we could find evidence of implementation from our business as usual (BAU) estimates.
The bottom end of our BAU range is based on the low-growth scenario included in Bhutan’s Third National Communication, harmonized to latest historic year. The GDP growth in this scenario is 4.2% (Royal Government of Bhutan 2020a). BUR1 does not provide any updated BAU estimates.
The top end of BAU has been derived using IMF GDP growth rates as a proxy for emissions growth for the period 2023-2027 and assuming emissions follow the 5-year trend for the remainder of the decade (2028-2030) (IMF 2022). Average GDP growth under this method is 5%. The Third National Communication’s high-growth scenario assumed 8%; however, in light of the pandemic, we consider the estimates from the IMF to be more likely.
The Third National Communication lists the mitigation potential of various sectoral measures (Royal Government of Bhutan 2020a). Several sector LEDS also provided information on the mitigation potential of various measures. We have considered only those measures for which we could find evidence of implementation and subtracted their impact from our BAU estimates to derive our current policy projections. Sector specific policies considered for the current policy projections are outlined below. These mitigation potential estimates are developed using various BAU trajectories, however we have not adjusted for this fact.
We could only find evidence of implementation of the Euro VI emissions standard and some EV related measures (EV charging station and promotion of electric taxis) for transport sector (Kuensel Online 2022c; Ministry of Information and Communication 2021a; Kuensel Online 2022b).
The Euro VI emission standard has been implemented since January 2022 (Kuensel Online 2022b). To estimate an annual reduction, we divided the cumulative mitigation potential estimate, provided in transport LEDS for the period 2021-2025, by 4 (as the measures was planned to begin in 2022). We assume that the level of annual reductions will remain constant throughout the rest of the decade. This reduction is included in both policy projections.
For the EV measures, we used the electric passenger vehicle mitigation potential estimate provided in the transport LEDS. As it is not clear whether all EV related measures associated with this estimate are being implemented, we only included the mitigation potential from this measure in the lower end of the current policy projection.
We assume that the emissions estimates provided in the transport LEDS is for CO2 only.
Agriculture & waste
While Bhutan did not achieve its organic farming target, we think it is still advancing policy action in this area (see main policy section for details) and is also advancing on its biogas plans (see discussion in the Waste section of the policy tab).
We have taken mitigation potential of organic farming and biogas production from the LEDS of Food Security to estimate the effect of these policy actions (Ministry of Agriculture and Forests 2021). The LEDS does not specify which GWPs are used to calculate its figures, however we assume it to be SAR values as that is what was used in the NDC update. BUR1 does not provide a gas by gas breakdown of emissions for the agriculture sector, however based on the information provided we estimate that emissions are roughly 80% methane and 20% N2O (Royal Government of Bhutan 2022). (This breakdown is also consistent with PRIMAP data for the sector for the pre-pandemic period). We use this split to convert the organic farming estimate to AR4 GWP. For biogas production, only methane emissions will be reduced and GWP is converted to AR4 accordingly.
The Human Settlement LEDS includes two measures for the waste sector relating to composting and wastewater management for which activities are being implemented (see the discussion in the Waste sector of our policies tab for more details) (Ministry of Works and Human Settlement 2021). We assume that these measures will reduce methane emissions only (the electricity generation associated with the wastewater management is negligible) and have converted the GWP from SAR to AR4 for that gas only.
Energy efficiency Roadmap
In 2019, Bhutan adopted Energy Efficiency and Conservation Roadmap for building, appliances and industries (Dept. Renewable Energy 2019). As Bhutan’s hydroelectricity is considered to have zero emissions, the energy savings from the appliance measures will have no impact on Bhutan’s emissions (though may allow it to export more electricity to India, offsetting higher emitting sources of power there). Much of the building sector mitigation potential is from biomass use reduction, which will eventually contribute to Bhutan’s sink capacity, and not fossil emissions. CAT estimates are excluding LULUCF, thus we have only considered industry sector mitigation potential from Energy Efficiency Roadmap. This estimate still includes some biomass, albeit a much smaller amount, and we have not adjusted it. We assume all emission reductions are CO2 only. The Roadmap includes two estimates, the maximum potential reductions for the sector 0.02 MtCO2e over a 15-year period as well as an estimate for the selected measures the government will purse, we use the latter.
Global Warming Potentials
The CAT uses Global Warming Potential (GWP) values from the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) for all figures and time series. Assessments completed prior to December 2018 (COP24) used GWP values from the IPCC’s Second Assessment Report (SAR).