As the mantle of leadership is transferred to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and his coalition government from the Prayut Chan-o-cha administration, Thailand finds itself at a crucial juncture in the battle against global warming. The nation is tasked with both mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for potential natural disasters.
The magnitude of challenges related to global warming and climate change is globally recognized, demanding immediate action from every corner of the world. Thailand, under its previous government, had charted its course of action against climate change under the 12th National Economic and Social Development Plan (2020-22).
This comprehensive plan detailed prospective strategies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen resilience to climate change, and manage risks posed by natural disasters. The successful implementation of these strategies is chiefly accountable to the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC), under its strategic focus on “Environmentally Friendly Growth for Sustainable Development.”
This proactive approach has resulted in several advancements such as:
Greenhouse gas emissions
Thailand has witnessed a considerable improvement in greenhouse gas emissions management. In 2021 alone, the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the energy sector decreased from 258.5 million tons to a reduced figure of 246.9 million tons. This achievement is largely credited to the tighter Covid-19 restrictions placed during the 2020-21 period, leading to a marked decrease in emissions from power generation, transportation, and other economic domains.
In addition, the financial impact of reducing greenhouse gas emissions per unit is consistently experiencing a downfall. To compare, the energy sector reported a reduction in emissions equivalent to 23.46 tons of carbon dioxide per 1 million baht of the GDP in 2021. This downward curve, visible since 1997, is a promising sign for environmental preservation.
The 12th plan
The National Committee on Climate Change Policy, under the 12th plan, has granted approval for draft national adaptation plans, which aim to prepare the nation against climate change impacts in crucial sectors, including agriculture, water management, public health, and forestry. These drafts are currently under evaluation by relevant agencies and are soon to be proposed to the Cabinet for consideration.
Notably, the first phase of the national climate change adaptation plan specific to public health has rolled out for the tenure of 2021-30.
Financial support mechanisms
Enacting climate change policies and ideas require substantial financial backing, technical support, and capacity-building initiatives. Thus, agencies are collaborating to foster financial mechanisms for climate change awareness and facilitate knowledge exchange. A five-year collaboration framework (2022-26) is also in the works to back Thailand’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).
An NDC is a nation’s self-proclaimed climate pledge under the Paris Agreement, which focuses on mitigating global temperature rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius, adapting to climate impacts, and securing adequate finances for the efforts.
A novel initiative has been launched to aid climate change mitigation efforts in Thailand, with increased budget allocation and public expenditure management. This involves endorsing policies that premiere climate change adaptation, advocating gender equality, and promoting social inclusion.
Next phase development
As Thailand embarks on its journey towards the 13th NESDC Plan, the council has lauded impressive progress made during the 12th plan. The achievements extend from the expansion of forested zones, sprucing up protected forest regions, and restoring damaged forest areas to improve water resource management and accommodate agriculture through medium, small, and large-scale irrigation areas.
However, the rapid urbanization and evolving lifestyles demand a shift in production patterns and service delivery to meet swift and convenient consumer demands. Hence, there is a need for a societal makeover geared towards environmentally friendly consumption.
This implies advocating for markets selling eco-friendly goods and services, encouraging the sustained use of green products and services, and fostering technology adoption for clean production.
In the agricultural sector, efforts should be directed towards endorsing organic farming and sustainable agricultural practices to minimize the use of harmful chemicals in food. Furthermore, the enforcement of stringent laws is essential to control raw material usage and manage waste more effectively, thus reducing their impact on communities and the environment.
Finally, focus should be on community-based pollution control and management, with industrial types and volumes adjusted to local circumstances to control pollution through the entire process. This alignment can be linked to the government’s database, thereby escalating effectiveness.