Bhutan

Climate Risk Country Profile - Bhutan

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• While data are limited, historical records indicate an increase in annual temperatures of just under 1°C over the 20th century in Bhutan, with daily minimum temperatures increasing at a greater pace than daily maximum temperatures.

• Projections of temperature rise in Bhutan are slightly greater than the global average: 3.9°C compared to 3.7°C by the 2090s under the highest emissions pathway, RCP8.5.

• Flooding is considered to be the most significant climate-related hazard faced by Bhutan, with most of the country’s agricultural land and infrastructure located along drainage basins that are highly vulnerable to heavy monsoon rains and glacial-lake outbursts. The impact of flooding on human health and livelihoods is expected to grow and could be 4% of GDP by the 2030s.

• Climate models project a significant increase in the likelihood of heatwaves and droughts. These are likely to impact more severely on communities in Bhutan’s lowlands.

• Higher temperatures are projected to also contribute to increased snowmelt which could change patterns of river discharge and water availability. Impacts on infrastructure could grow significantly in the second half of the 21st century.

• Agriculture is highly vulnerable to climatic conditions due to its dependence on monsoon rains and short growing periods. This is accentuated by the structure of agricultural production and concentration of agricultural activity in vulnerable areas. Around 30% of agricultural production takes place on slopes that are vulnerable to landslides and soil erosion.

• Bhutan’s high reliance on hydroelectric generation represents a particular climate-vulnerability. Climate changes could have direct impacts on energy security through processes such as changing rates of sedimentation, reducing water reserves and flow regularity, and exposing infrastructure to hazards such as flooding, Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF), and landslides.

• Bhutan is vulnerable to an increase in the geographic range and incidence of vector-borne and water-borne diseases as a consequence of climate change.

• Despite Bhutan’s relatively high levels of food sufficiency, food access, and nutrition continue to represent challenges. Without effective adaptation, the impact of climate change on global food security and local production is likely to increase hunger and malnourishment in Bhutan.

• Despite recent successes in poverty reduction, the likelihood that the strongest impacts of climate change will fall on the communities with the least capacity to adapt, means there is a high risk of people falling back into poverty and a widening inequality gap

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