Air and Climate Change Division

As a small landlocked country with a fragile mountainous ecosystem, and with high reliance on climate sensitive sectors such as hydropower and agriculture, Bhutan is particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. The most visible impacts are the retreat of glaciers, Glacial Lake Outburst Floods, flash floods and landslides, windstorms, drying up of springs and water sources, forest fires and outbreak of pests and diseases. Furthermore, as a least developed country, Bhutan lacks the resources and capacity to address the challenges of climate change. Despite all these challenges, Bhutan pledged to remain carbon neutral at the 15th Conference of the Parties in 2009 at Copenhagen.  
Recognizing the need to ensure low carbon and climate resilient society and economy and fulfillment of its mandate to protect and promote a safe and healthy environment including negotiation and enforce bilateral and multilateral environmental agreements, the establishment of a Climate Change Unit at the NEC Secretariat was approved in 2009 by the National Environment Commission which was later upgraded to a Climate Change Division by the decision of the 32nd NEC in 2011.
Additionally, CCD is also mandated to monitor the ambient air quality in the country. Ambient air quality in the country over the past has been deteriorating not just in urban areas, but also over broad areas of rural Bhutan. Local air pollution contributes to climate change. Termed as short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP), these local air pollutants are major contributor of haze layer, visible along the southern belt of the country especially during the winter months.
Currently, CCD is maintaining and operating six AQM stations located in different parts of the country in trying to represent the geographic representation of the country. However, the current number of AQM stations operated and parameters monitored do not provide an overall national average of levels of air pollution. More stations with increased parameters are required to get accurate levels of air pollution in the country.
Functions and Mandates related to Climate Change are: 

I.        Coordinating actions for Commitment to remain Carbon Neutral
  • Inventory of GHG and projection.
  • Economy wide assessments (such as CGE modeling) to identify interventions that will ensure decoupling of GHG emissions from socio-economic growth across all sectors.
  • Facilitate and support mitigation measures to promote low carbon development.
  • Mitigation programming such as CDM and REDD.
  • Promote and facilitate integration of climate change mitigation issues into national plans and programs.
  • Promote and support technologies and capacity needs for mitigation.
  • Monitoring, Reporting and Verification systems to track climate resilience and carbon neutrality status of the country.

II.        Coordinating actions for adapting to impacts of climate change
  • Preparation of a holistic national Vulnerability & Adaptation assessment and plans including National Adaptation Plans & NAPAs.
  • Assess and promote technologies and capacity needs for adaptation.
  • Assess national needs and implications for adaptation under MEAs.
  • Monitoring, Reporting and Verification systems to track climate resilience.
  • Assess various Climate Change scenarios to plan for 1.5 or 2 degree world.
  • Promote and facilitate integration of climate change adaptation issues into national plans and programs
III.        Fulfillment of national and international reporting obligations under the Convention, Protocol,  Amendment and Agreement: 
  • Nationally Determined Contributions.
  • Long Term Goal on Low greenhouse gas Emission Development Strategies.
  • National Communications (comprehensive reports).
  • Biennial Updates Reports (GHG reporting every 2 years).
  • Biennial Transparency Report (BTR).
  • Adaptation Communication.
  • Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs).
  • National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPAs).
  • National Adaptation Plans (NAPs).
  • Technology Needs Assessments and Action Plans among others.
  • Facilitate implementation of Article 6 of the PA on Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes.
  • Compliance to Article 14 of the PA in Global Stocktake 
IV.        Reporting to national, regional and other international forums and bodies on climate actions in Bhutan such as the Environment Committee of the Parliament, National Council, SAARC and others.
 V.        Raising awareness on climate change through:
  • Production and dissemination of information on climate change through print, audio, video and social media.
  • Programs at school and input towards school curriculum on climate change.
  • Guest lectures and seminars at universities and private sector forums
VI.        Ensuring synergies for cross sectoral coordination:
  •  Liaising internally with Waste Management Division, Water Resources Coordination Division, Environment Assessment and Compliance Division, Policy and Planning Services, Legal Services to ensure other MEAs and national priorities also integrate and/or consider climate change issues and challenges.
  • Sectoral coordination for synergizing sectoral policies, plans and programs with climate change issues and actions.
  • Synergizing climate change actions and plans with other initiatives such as SDGs, Sendai Framework etc.

VII.  Ambient Air Quality Monitoring
  • Set up air quality monitoring stations with varying parameters across the country.
  • Operate the stations in a systemic and consistent manner.
  • Conduct impact assessment of air pollution on human health and recommend appropriate mitigation measures. 
  • Provide information on ambient air quality

    Institutional arrangements for climate change
National Climate Change Committee: The National Environment Commission (NEC) serves as the high-level National Climate Change Committee (NCCC). The NEC, in its functions as National Climate Change Committee (NCCC), will consider all policy and regulatory matters on climate change. NECS in supporting the NEC/NCCC shall also lead the preparation of policies, national strategies and plans on climate change such as Climate Change Policy, NDCs, NAPs, LEDS.

Climate Change Coordination Committee: The Climate Change Coordination Committee (C4) is the technical body to serve as a forum for discussion and coordination of matters related to climate change in Bhutan and makes recommendations for consideration by the NCCC/NEC. The C4 is comprised of high-level executive representation from stakeholder agencies and organizations and is chaired by the Secretary of NECS. The committee derives its mandate from the Executive Order of the Prime Minister of October 16, 2016.The C4 is supported in implementing its mandates and functions through the Climate Change Division of NECS. The C4 ensures an effective and coordinated implementation of actions on climate change.