Climate Change, Global Warming, Net Zero Emissions – What has Thailand done so far?

Thailand is one of many countries facing climate change issues. While many world leaders pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, what has Thailand done so far?

Thai PBS World recently spoke with an honorary expert and member of the National Climate Change Policy Committee, Prasertsuk Patoonsittichai, who works closely with the Thai government in developing policies related to environmental issues, especially in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint. .

What has been done so far?

Thailand’s National Committee on Climate Change Policy was established by the government, with the mandate to set climate change and environmental policies at the national level. Chaired by the Prime Minister, the committee also involves different ministries, members of the public and private sectors, academic institutions and climate change experts like her.

The committee is composed of sub-committees, namely Climate Change Policy and Planning Integration, Knowledge and Database, Negotiation and International Cooperation, Action for Climate Empowerment and public relations. Prasertsuk however explains that the sub-committee working on the roadmap and strategy is the most important.

Prasertsuk Patoonsittichai

In fact, the fight against climate change and global warming does not only depend on the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, which is the national focal point of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), but the committee must work with all ministries and all sectors. As the honorary expert explains, 80% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the energy and industry sectors, directly linked to the Ministry of Energy.

“We founded the national committee, we have a master plan for each sector, but the action plan depends on each ministry,” says Prasertsuk.

So far, Thailand has introduced many approaches to address climate change at the national, sectoral and municipal levels, both in the short and long term. Among them, the 20-year National Development Plan (2017-2036), which emphasizes “green growth”, the promotion of sustainable development, and the Master Plan on Climate Change (2012-2050), which is a framework of integrated policies and action plans. related to climate change.

With all the “master plans” in place, Prasertsuk says Thailand has improved on its original target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, as the country has managed to reduce these emissions by 30%, with its target. to reach 40% in 2030 The climate change expert, however, believes that this is not yet enough.

(Photo by Christopher Furlong/POOL/AFP)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha also announced last year at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland that Thailand was aiming to achieve the ultimate goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 and net zero emissions. ‘by 2065. With Thailand’s ambitious commitments, Prasertsuk believes they can achieve this goal provided they receive support from other countries, especially Europe.

“If we can get all areas of support, be it in finance, technology or capacity building, we can achieve the goal in the year we have planned.”

Set the right policy

When asked what challenges remained for Thailand in tackling climate change, the former executive director of the Greenhouse Gas Organization of Thailand said they stem from policy implementation, as this always requires financial, technological and capacity building support.

Another big issue is “emissions inventories,” or a database that lists the amount and sources of pollutants released into the atmosphere. As she explains, emissions come from a variety of sources, from the industrial sector to local waste, but there is not enough data on this.

“That’s the problem,” she said. “If we don’t have enough data, we can’t define a good policy, we can’t define an incentive and we can’t define the right measures. [to fix the problem].”

To address this issue, Thailand is currently working on a climate change bill, which neighboring countries such as Vietnam and Lao PDR have already introduced. The project itself, however, is still awaiting cabinet approval, with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment revising the projects and adding more relevant measures.

“We have had questions from cabinet, relevant ministries and some from the private sector, as to whether the Climate Change Act is up to date as in detail it does not cover economic measures, such as the fuel tax. carbon or carbon pricing measures. ”

File image (Photo by NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP)

In addition to the national level, there is also a roadmap at the local level. As she explains, their committee will create an agreement between the relevant ministries and the governors of each province. The committee will also help local governments create a roadmap to reduce greenhouse gases and carbon footprints in their provinces.

“We can say that every governor understands the problem,” she explains. “They know how much greenhouse gas they emit or, as we call it, their carbon footprint. So we try to support them with their roadmap.

We must work together, regardless of gender

While emphasizing the importance of female leadership, Prasertsuk sees more women leaders, both in the environment and energy sectors, including local governments, who can play an important role in decision-making.

When asked why it is important to have more female leaders or committee members, however, Prasertsuk thinks gender is not an issue. She insists that people, regardless of gender, need to work together and find solutions together.

“We have to work together, men and women, so that we can do every activity, investment and everything together.”

By Nad Bunnag, Thai PBS World

Teresa H. Sadler