Striving for a greener future

Striving for a greener future

Thailand works with Germany to achieve sustainable development

While Germany transitions to a low-carbon, nuclear-free future, it is working to encourage other countries, including Thailand, to jump on the environmental bandwagon.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is training energy officers nationwide under a partial coronavirus lockdown to fight climate change. It is working in 120 countries to promote international cooperation in various fields for sustainable development.

GIZ Thailand is collaborating with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment on the Thai-German Climate Programme (TGCP).

It receives funding from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU) under the International Climate Initiative (IKI), which finances climate and biodiversity projects in developing countries.

Starting from 2018-2021, TGCP aims to mitigate the impact of the climate crisis in five areas -- climate, agriculture, waste, water and energy.

Virtual energy classroom

Preechaya Rassadanukul, a junior adviser for TGCP-Energy, said the government's ban on public gatherings to curb the spread of the coronavirus forced the delay of a plan to organise follow-up training for provincial energy offices in Bangkok in March.

"However, we don't want to waste time, otherwise they will forget," Ms Preechaya told the Bangkok Post.

"In early April, we discussed the possibility of going online and then spent two weeks setting up the e-learning system. Users can finish each course in one hour's sitting and take quizzes to assess their understanding."

At the moment, the project is offering two courses on energy landscape and data analysis. While the former gives an overview of the energy situation, the latter provides insight into data for energy planning.

"We will also launch an energy scenario course to help staff envision the foreseeable future of energy use. All are crucial for data-driven decision-making," she said.

Ms Preechaya said online courses may have limitations in terms of activities and interaction, but they can offer flexible schedules and accommodate more participants.

"We are calling them to follow up on their progress," she said.

Lacking know-how

Meanwhile, Thachatat Kuvarakul, project manager for TGCP-Energy, said the climate programme is supporting provincial energy officers nationwide in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"They are doing many projects on renewable energy and energy efficiency," Mr Thachatat said. "We are helping them minimise gas releases in compliance with the country's goal of fulfilling its nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

"In Thailand, three-fourths of its greenhouse gas emissions come from the energy and transport sectors."

In 2015, Thailand submitted a climate action plan to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20%-25% by 2030. According to the Department of Environmental Quality Promotion, Thailand reduced greenhouse gas releases by 14% in 2017.

Mr Thachatat said provincial energy offices lack technical know-how and digital tools to analyse energy planning in the long term.

"Energy planning covers [the phasing out of] fossil fuel and the use of renewable energy," he said. "Each province manages small-scale off-grid projects, such as solar greenhouses, solar water pumps, and biomass boilers. These projects have been proliferating in the provinces. However, it is difficult to measure and integrate the amount of greenhouse gas emissions into the NDCs."

Mr Thachatat said the feasibility of energy transition must be considered in an entire system. "We are moving away from fossil fuel to renewable energy, but it depends a lot on many factors, including the installation of smart-grid systems," he said.

"However, Thailand has made progress compared to other regional countries. A large number of farmers are in fact leading the field, for example, by using biomass ponds," he said.

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