Thailand leads call for ASEAN to fight climate change

Thailand Focus week of July 13, 2015

TF-2A Thai official led calls for the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to step up the fight against climate change and further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, during a regional forum in Bangkok last week joined by representatives of the European Union and the Asian Institute of Technology.

Prasert Sirinapaporn, Climate Change Management and Coordination Division director at the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, said Thailand was taking a leading role in efforts to reduce global warming within the region, but every country needs to do more. He made the remarks at the Regional Forum on Climate Change at the Asian Institute of Technology campus just north of Bangkok.

The forum is a lead-up event to the 21st Conference of Parties, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, in early December. Members of the Secretariat of the ASEAN and Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs were also in attendance at the Forum.

“Thailand has already set a goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by seven to 20 percent by 2020, by concentrating on renewable energy and cutting carbon emissions from the transport sector. We are also planning even more reductions in greenhouse gases beyond 2020,” Prasert said.

He acknowledged, however, that some government policies were inconsistent with the goal to reduce greenhouse gases, such as plans for new coal power plants. Prasert said these needed to be discussed further.

Thailand is already the leader in Southeast Asia in power generated by solar and wind technologies. The Kingdom ranks third in the region in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that it has cut, just behind Singapore and Malaysia. The United Nations has said that Thailand is one of the countries that have been most affected by climate change to this point in time.

Rangsit University’s Center on Climate Change and Disaster director Seree Supratid described the current drought in Thailand, which she said scientists have attributed in part to climate change. Unless the world made a more concerted effort to turn the tide on climate change, Bangkok could eventually be submerged under water as the sea level is rising by 0.11 inches every year, and land is subsiding by 0.4 inches per year, she said.

The stakes are high as the efforts of keeping the rise in world temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius degrees would be a turning point for humanity, said Daniel Price, a British environmental scientist, who is riding a bicycle from Antarctica to Paris on a “Pole to Paris” campaign to raise awareness about climate change.

“The evidence from scientific research over the last 10 years has told us that climate change is now critical,” Price said.

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