Govt urged to ramp up action on greenhouse gas emissions

Govt urged to ramp up action on greenhouse gas emissions

Thailand will have to balance economic, social and environmental concerns to achieve the country's climate change policy and related action plans, according to Phirun Saiyasitpanich, a senior official on climate policy at Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

"Setting an ambitious goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, such as saying we will try to cut them by 50%, is easier said than done. When making a policy, we must take into consideration the effects on all stakeholders. We have to be sure that we can still compete economically and grow sustainably," said Mr Phirun, director of the Climate Change Management Coordination Division, Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (Onrep).

Mr Phirun made his comment at the "Ozone: New Hope" seminar organised in collaboration with the World Bank, Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Engineering, and Onrep.

Onrep is the state agency responsible for drafting the country's climate change policy.

The government has set a goal of reducing the country's emissions from 555 million metric tonnes to 444 million metric tonnes -- or around 20% -- by 2030.

The government, according to Mr Phirun, has devised the country's climate change action plans based on the idea of maintaining a balance between economic expansion, social concerns and environmental sustainability.

"Being lopsided in either direction could affect the country's economic growth or wreak havoc on ecological systems and cause social disruption," he said.

Thailand is ranked 22nd on the global list of greenhouse emitters, yet it is one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Bangkok is one of the world's coastal cities, along with Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, Jakarta and Yangon, which could be devastated by rising sea levels.

Bangkok is already sinking by one to two centimetres a year, and a recent World Bank report said that the capital could be partially submerged by 2030 due to extreme rainfall and rising sea levels.

Conservationists have criticised the Thai government for not being ambitious enough in its current emissions reduction targets.

One of the most criticised policies of the government is an energy plan that still supports the use of coal, a major source of carbon emissions.

Last month, for instance, Greenpeace Southeast Asia asked the Thai government to revamp its energy plan by removing all fossil fuels, such as coal-fired power plants, and to raise the goal for renewable energy to 100%.

Thailand's current renewable energy target is 30% by 2036.

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