The new coalition government under the leadership of Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has inherited the Prayut Chan-o-cha administration’s fight against global warming. The objective is clear: reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and manage the risks associated with natural calamities.
This crucial global issue of climate change and global warming was diligently addressed by the former Thai government in their 12th National Economic and Social Development Plan (2020-22). The strategies articulated in the plan included making concerted efforts to bring down greenhouse gas emissions, increasing resilience to climate change, and the management of risks related to natural disasters.
The National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) has succinctly presented the results of the plan’s initiatives under Strategy 4: ‘Environment-friendly Growth for Sustainable Development.’ The following have been the achievements:
Greenhouse Gas Emissions:
Efficient reduction of greenhouse gas emissions has been a significant achievement of Thailand. The country successfully reduced carbon dioxide emissions in the energy sector from 258.5 million tons to 246.9 million tons in 2021. This slash in greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to the decrease in power generation, transportation, and other industry sectors due to stringent Covid-19 protocols in 2020-21, including remote working arrangements and travel restrictions.
A trend of continuous decrease in the initial cost of reducing the greenhouse gas emission per unit has been observed. Compared to the all-time lows of the industry, the corresponding value was 23.46 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per 1 million baht GDP in 2021, marking a positive stride towards an environment-friendly Thailand.
12th Development Plan: Climate Change Impact Management
For managing climate change impacts in essential sectors including water management, agriculture, public health, and forestry, national adaptation plans were approved by the National Committee on Climate Change Policy during the 12th National Economic and Social Development Plan. These plans, currently reviewed by relevant agencies, will create the strategic blueprint for the country’s climate change action.
Meanwhile, the initial phase of the national climate change adaptation plan focusing on public health for the period of 2021-30 is in the implementation process.
Financial Mechanisms for Climate Change Intervention
Domestic finance mechanisms have been implemented to bolster climate change related technology and capacity-building. Climate change finance mechanisms and knowledge exchange are spearheaded by relevant agencies. To support Thailand’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), a cooperation framework spanning five years (2022-26) is on the way. Moreover, a project elevating budget allocation and efficient public expenditure management for climate change adaptation is in progress.
Development towards the 13th NESDC Plan:
As per the council, the previous plan saw significant strides in natural resource preservation and environmental management, including forest area expansion, protected forest augmentation, and recuperation of degraded forests. However, there are challenges to tackle. These include controlling solid waste generation, water and air quality maintenance, public participation in conservation, and environmentally-friendly behaviour promotion.
Further development should promote green consumer behaviour, foster eco-friendly product markets, and promote use of environment-friendly goods. In addition, more emphasis should be given to organic farming to reduce harmful chemicals in food, and community-based pollution control should be prioritised.
The enforcement of stringent laws for raw material reduction and waste management is crucial. Moreover, aligning industrial types with local conditions can aid in effectively controlling pollution throughout the entire chain. This could be part of a broader initiative to link the government’s database.