Bhutan To Implement Three Initiatives As Chair Of LDC Group To Combat Climate Change


“Climate change impacts are growing and countries are facing more extreme climate events,” said Manjeet Dhakal (Head of the LDC support team).

Snow-capped mountains in the Laya Highlands of Bhutan. (Source: Druk Asia)


By Phub Gyem BBS

More than 60 senior experts and negotiators from the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are in Thimphu for a four-day meeting to prepare for the upcoming UN climate talks in June and the UN Secretary General’s summit in September 2019.

The head of the LDC support team, Manjeet Dhakal, said that the Paris Agreement has continued to pick momentum.

“Investments are shifting, technology breakthrough coming in, business and market preferences changing towards renewables and sustainable options.

“Climate change impacts are growing and countries are facing more extreme climate events,” he said.

All these signify, he said, a much greater ambition was required to limit temperature increase to 1.5 Degree Celsius and more ambitious emission reduction and adequate means of implementation.

The focus has shifted from negotiations to implementing actions on the ground. Many LDCs, he said, are demonstrating their commitment to climate action and leadership on the international stage.

“When it comes taking action on climate change, we do not have time to delay. Our countries are already suffering from its impacts,” said Sonam P Wangdi, the Chair of the LDC Group.

In spite of not being major contributors, LDCs remain most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. And this calls for greater urgency for all the countries to reduce emissions, develop capacities to adapt to climate change and build resilience.


Bhutan faces risks of glacier lake flooding. Seen here is the film crew during the production of the 'Himalayan Meltdown' documentary.

Photo: UNDP Asia/Pacific


“What will happen is that glaciers are going to melt, sea level is going to rise, people are going to be displaced, and agricultural cropping patterns are going to change. That is why we need to do more, all of us, not just the LDCs,” Sonam P Wangdi said.

“In terms of emissions, we emit only two per cent of the global emissions. But in terms of vulnerabilities, we suffer the most. So that is why our call is for all countries to step up their ambitions in the nationally developed contributions, which we have to submit to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).”

The LDCs work together under the UNFCCC as a prominent negotiating bloc representing the moral voice of the poorest and most vulnerable countries in the world.

Bhutan is chairing the LDC Group on Climate Change till 2020

This is the first time that the LDC Group on Climate Change is meeting under the chairmanship of Bhutan. Bhutan succeeded the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in chairing the LDC group and will lead the group at the international level until the end of 2020.

After the Paris Agreement in 2015, 195 countries have agreed to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 from 2 Degrees Celsius for this century.

But as per the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 1.5 Degrees Celsius report, the world has already reached one Degree Celsius of warming.

The report also maintains that by 2030 to 2052, global warming is likely to reach 1.5 Degrees Celsius. For the LDCs, the negative fallout will fall upon them disproportionately. It is also found that the current nationally developed contributions are inadequate to bridge the emission gap by 2030.


A four-day meeting held in Thimphu, Bhutan to prepare for the upcoming UN climate talks in June and the UN Secretary General’s summit in September 2019.

Photo: BBS


“What science has already given is a clear picture that emissions are rising. The emission has not shown any sign of peaking and going down. So it is urgent that the countries’ emissions should peak and go downwards. But when we see the actions that the countries have presented, they are not in line with what science has presented. So that is the reason we are saying that science is not up for negotiations. It is about the survival of people, it is about the existence of countries and communities facing the impacts of climate change,” Manjeet Dhakal, the Advisor to LDC Group, said.

Three initiatives planned to combat climate change

To combat and adapt to climate change, the LDCs have planned three initiatives. However, they are currently still in the planning stage.

Experts and negotiators from LDCs are currently in the country to learn about the three initiatives:

  1. Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency for Sustainable Development,
  2. Effective Adaptation and Resilience as well as
  3. Universities Consortium on Climate Change

The LDC initiative for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency for Sustainable Development is a programme designed to promote and make renewable energy accessible for all LDCs by 2030 to 2040.

Whereas the LDC Initiative for Adaptation and Resilience ensures long term planning and building resilience to climate change.

Lastly, the role of the LDC Initiative for Universities Consortium is to build the capacities of the universities to combat climate change.

“It is a science and you need diverse capabilities. And these diverse capabilities are found in the universities. This programme is basically meant to build capacities of the universities in LDCs to combat climate change. Unfortunately, all these three programmes are still in the planning stages. So now Bhutan, our effort as LDC chair, we are actually trying to get it on the ground. We want to focus and get these implemented,” Sonam P Wangdi added.

Under Bhutan’s leadership, the representatives from the LDCs will also prepare for the upcoming UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit.

The summit will be an opportunity for the LDCs to ask world leaders to take actions in order to fully implement the Paris Agreement.

International studies show that 2018 was the four hottest year on record since 1880 after 2016, 2017, and 2015. The pattern of climate related extreme events are well aligned with the findings of the recently released UN’s IPCC 1.5 Degree Celsius report.

It has been found that the impacts of climate change are impeding development opportunities for the LDCs. Hurricanes and cyclones, which are made more frequent and severe by climate change affected an estimated 1.5 million people in LDCs in 2018. That resulted in an annual average loss of approximately 8.5 per cent of GDP in LDCs.


This article first appeared in BBS and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.


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