Reform panel drafting law to fight climate change

A government reform panel tasked with developing measure relating to natural resources and the environment is drafting a bill that will enhance the state’s efforts to fight climate change and global warming by making it easier for officials to obtain truthful and accurate information about carbon emissions by factories and other businesses.

“If it passes into law, it will be a vital tool for Thailand to deal with global warming and climate change more effectively,” said Bunthoon Srethasirote, a member of the reform panel and a director at the Good Governance for Social Development and the Environment Institute. He has been described as a “green economist.”

Bunthoon said the panel should finish the draft of the legislation by March, after which it would be forwarded to the cabinet of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha for approval. It would then be submitted to the National Legislative Assembly for a vote.

Thailand has been called one of the countries already most affected by climate change by the United Nations. The government plans to increase renewable energy to 25 percent of all energy consumed by 2036, and has formulated a climate change adaptation master plan covering the period 2015-2050.

But other factors, such as industrial pollution, outdated agricultural methods, deforestation, and urbanization are also taking a toll on the Kingdom’s environment and are contribution to climate change. In addition, the problem is borderless and requires global cooperation to solve.

Climate change affecting Thailand could also indirectly affect many other countries because Thailand is the only net food exporter in Asia. Thai crop output could suffer if temperatures rise or climate changes cause increasing weather volatility.

Bunthoon said that draft legislation would empower state officials to gain access to information on “complete and actual amounts” of carbon emissions from private factories. This would enable the country to report correct data to international agencies under the global commitment to battle climate change. At the moment, such information is received from factories on a voluntary basis.

“We have put both rewards and punishments in the draft bill, together with other economic tools, including collecting a carbon tax. But it is quite a sensitive issue that needs further study,” he said.

Implementing a carbon tax is not required under Thailand’s international commitments. Bunthoon described it as an extreme measure and so it was unclear if it is truly needed at this time.