Thailand wins World Bank grant to reduce greenhouse gases

Thailand won a $3 million grant from the World Bank last week to further develop its proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as officials said the Kingdom is aiming to lead the region in cutting emissions that contribute to climate change.

Thailand is preparing to join the Bank’s Partnership for Market Readiness (PMR) program, which provides a forum to support innovation and capacity building for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and supporting climate change mitigation. Established in 2011, a total of 30 countries are participating in the PMR and 18 countries are implementing initiatives under the program.

Thailand is a leader in Southeast Asia in the field of renewable energy, with more energy generated from solar and wind than any of its neighbors, and significant amounts of power generated from other ‘green’ sources such as hydropower and biomass. Nonetheless, the country is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

The grant will be used to conduct in-depth studies on four proposals formulated by Thailand to reduce its GHG emissions. The research will focus on the expected economic and social impacts of the proposals should they be implemented.  The Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization (TGO), a public organization, developed the proposals over several years with input from stakeholders.

Under the first proposal, the TGO will offer research to help the government prepare components of an Energy Performance Certificate program. It will provide technical assistance focusing on data readiness and target-setting methodology for different industrial sectors and types of buildings, developing performance-based incentives and assessing law and regulations required to implement the program.

In the second proposal, the Department of Alternative Energy would target over 9,000 large buildings and factories across the country, asking them to voluntarily reduce energy use from ‘business-as-usual levels.’ Companies that are able to reduce energy use below an agreed-upon target would receive performance certificates that would then be assessed to determine how their carbon credit should be priced.

The third proposal would have the TGO helping local communities and municipalities gauge their carbon footprint and draft plans to reduce gases using alternatives that fit each community. Plans could include using more renewable energy and engaging in reforestation. Initially, 24 communities would serve as pilot areas for this part of the program.

The fourth proposal will help develop a legal framework to support an emission trading system in Thailand. According to Pongvipa Lohsomboon, deputy director at TGO, there have been talks with companies in the petrochemical, paper and cement sectors that could take a lead in this system. Thailand, they said, was the 22nd-largest carbon-dioxide emitter in the world and fifth largest in the East Asia and Pacific region.