Thailand Checkup

Thailand—Falling Behind

Thailand signed the Paris Agreement on April 22, 2016 and ratified the Paris Agreement on September 21, 2016. Even before the Paris Agreement ratification, Thailand became a member of the Kyoto Protocol, which was developed in 1997 and came into force in February 16, 2005. Thailand as a member of non-annex party (group of developing countries) ratified the Kyoto Protocol on August 28, 2002 and made the pledge to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2008 to 2012 by at least 5 percent below 1990 levels. Thailand also made a commitment under the “Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol”, which is from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2020 and it aims at meeting an overall emissions reduction target of at least 18 percent below the 1990 levels.

Within the given time period from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2020; non-annex countries such as Thailand have the option of establishing Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects. From the timeframe 2005 to 2020, as an Annex 1 Party’s commitment for the Kyoto Protocol, Thailand was involved in the facilitation of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects (Saiyasitpanich, 2017). The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) mentioned in Article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol will allow developed Annex B countries with an emission reduction or emission limitation commitment to implement an emission-reduction project in developing countries like Thailand. Examples of CDM activities, which are already in-place in Thailand along with other developing countries typically include rural electrification projects using solar panels and the installation of more energy efficient boilers.
Thailand’s pledge in the Kyoto Protocol compliments the pledge made in the Paris Agreement. This is because both the pledges are still active. The facilitation of CDM projects and at least 5 to 18% emissions reductions under the Kyoto Protocol will significantly help in successfully achieving the emissions reduction target of 20% for the Paris Agreement.

Thailand’s Paris Agreement INDC pledge was drafted by The Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The implementation of Thailand’s INDC is regularly monitored by the Thai Government and the UNFCCC. Either group can suggest changes to their INDC, which are then made and finalized by ONEP. The government of Thailand is also responsible for formulating plans in the INDC.  For instance, the government intends to make necessary changes to its INDC plans so that the plans adhere to the sustainable development principle. The sustainable development principle is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. The government will play a lead-role towards actual implementation and evaluation of the INDC plans (Saiyasitpanich, 2017). Finally, for establishing the INDC, Thailand has proposed to remain consistent with the Sufficient Economy Philosophy  (Saiyasitpanich, 2017).
Expert analysts suggest that Thailand facing numerous obstacles and still has a long way to go in terms of successfully complying with its Paris Agreement pledge. A clear-cut roadmap to successfully achieving its INDC’s emissions reduction objectives is lacking. This creates a sense of uncertainty about the emission reduction strategies in place to successfully comply with the Paris Agreement. There are other obstacles that might hinder Thailand’s long-term success in complying with the Paris Agreement. For instance, the ineffectiveness of existing climate change policies due to high budgets and the halting of renewable energy infrastructures is resulting in widespread criticism. There are proposed plans about increasing coal usage from 10% to around 25%, which will prevent Thailand from meeting the INDC targets. Other proposed developmental projects are in place under Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, which will likely increase the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the near future. The “Get Back Forest Policy” has received enormous criticisms by political opponents as well as strong resentment on behalf of indigenous communities as their land rights are being violated where the lands of indigenous communities in forests are being taken away to increase the forest area up to 40% of state territory. Finally, the Government policies with respect to the Paris Agreement have led to large-scale anger on behalf of small-scale marginalized farmers as they feel that they are being neglected. Therefore, in order for Thailand to comply with the Paris Agreement the government’s policies need to be more transparent, inclusive, holistic and bottom-up. The top-down approach, which is currently in place, excludes the voices of different sectors of the society. Only with these change will the government’s policies will be able to gain stronger support from all sectors of society. This in turn will help with the successful implementation of policies that will meet Thailand’s Paris Agreement pledge.

Learn More

To learn more about the presentation by Dr. Phirun Saiyasitpanich; and to know more about Thailand’s steps to comply with the Paris Agreement in 2015 please visit http://www4.unfccc.int/submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/Thailand/1/Thailand_INDC.pdf
To learn more about the Clean Development Project please visit http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/mechanisms/clean_development_mechanism/items/2718.php
To learn more about the National Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) please visit http://unfccc.int/focus/mitigation/items/7172.php
To learn more about Thailand’s pledge in the Kyoto Protocol please visit http://www.tgo.or.th/2015/english/content.php?s1=31&s2=73&sub3=sub3
To learn more about Thailand’s INDC please visit http://www4.unfccc.int/ndcregistry/PublishedDocuments/Thailand%20First/Thailand_INDC.pdf
To learn more about the obstacles which might hinder Thailand’s long-term success to comply with the Paris Agreement please visit http://earthjournalism.net/stories/thailand-will-have-a-lot-to-do-following-adoption-of-the-new-paris-climate-agreement-on-saturday-while-looking-forward-to-collaborate-in-the-next-year-climate-talk-as-a-chair-of-g77
To learn more about the Sufficient Economy Philosophy please visit https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/partnership/?p=2126 and to learn about the Sufficient Economy in Thailand’s context please visit https://www.oxfordbusinessgroup.com/overview/middle-way-applying-king%E2%80%99s-philosophy-sufficiency-economy-long-term-sustainable-development
To learn more about Thailand’s 11th National Economic and Social Development Plan please visit http://www.asialeds.org/resource/eleventh-national-economic-and-social-development-plan-2012-2016-thailand/