Thailand is not moving away from the use of coal power fast enough, Greenpeace has claimed, insisting that the transformation towards clean energy must start now if climate change is to be averted on the road towards a target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Greenpeace Southeast Asia's Thailand Country Director Tara Buakamsri was speaking during an online discussion panel, held by the environmental group on Thursday where he noted that even though there are some encouraging noises being made by titans in the energy sector, current pledges towards lowering their reliance on coal were too little, too late. The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand recently announced that Mae Moh coal mine in Lampang will be closed in 30 years, while Siam Cement Group has pledged to phase out coal too, but without giving a specific time frame.
Mr Tara said these coal reduction plans were unlikely to be enough to see the country fulfil its commitment under the Paris Agreement to mitigate climate change.
Moreover, he said Thailand's coal consumption rate had remained high, with imports of coal still exceeding 1.5 million tonnes a year which are combined with a further 1.5 million tonnes mined domestically for use by coal-fired power plants and industry.
Sarinee Achavanuntakul, an independent academic and managing director of Sal Forest Co Ltd, also said the number of investors in coal is consistently declining globally as the international community rushes to cap greenhouse gas emissions.
Ms Sarinee said according to a recent International Energy Agency report, if we want to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, we need to stop new coal projects now.
Meanwhile, the country's most recent Power Development Plan still includes a new 1,200-megawatt coal-fired power plant and power procurement plan from the 1,473-megawatt Hongsa coal-fired power plant in Laos.
"Internationally, coal and other fossil fuels are now regarded as a 'stranded asset' and very high-risk investment choice," she warned.