Are we running out of time to tackle the climate crisis? While all nations are racing against time, the climate crisis is creeping up on us.
The global temperature could rise by 3.2 Celsius above pre-industrial levels, even if we meet the climate goal that we set, warns the report from UN Environment Programme. COP 25 (Conference of the Parties 25) called for member nations to step up climate action by updating their National Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020 and achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.
The Emission Gap Report also suggests that countries must act immediately and increase their NDCs more than fivefold to achieve the 1.5 C goal.
Scientists, media, NGOs and government agencies have been talking about climate change for decades. Since 2018, greenhouse gas emissions have hit a record high [International Energy Agency], with climate change escalating into a climate emergency in 2019.
The annual global temperature was 1.1 degree Celsius warmer than average for 1850-1900 according to the World Meteorology Organisation (WMO). The WMO also confirmed that the year 2019 was the second warmest year on record after 2016 since 1880. The heat is not the only culprit; the world has also experienced a rise in sea levels, increased ocean heat and acidification, erratic rainfall patterns and extreme weather. Everywhere and everyone on the planet is sharing the same fate with the degree of severity varying between regions.
Thailand is no different. The country was ranked 22nd on the list of nations with the highest GHG emissions in 2018 and was placed 10th in the most affected countries from climate change in 2017. There have already been a number of severe natural disasters; prolonged droughts, changing rainfall patterns and rises in temperature, which could lead to many other issues affecting human health as well as biodiversity.
COP 25 was convened in Spain in December 2019 to monitor and review the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of the member countries. Thailand, led by H.E. Mr. Varawut Silpa-archa, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment participated.
What are the key results from COP 25?
The key results and discussions from COP 25 were disseminated by the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) on 14 January 2020. The talks included the negotiations on the last pending issues, in particular discussions on the rules for how the global emissions trading system will function (Article 6 of the Paris Agreement), but no conclusion was reached.
The discussion on action and support to loss and damage in countries facing climate emergencies achieved weaker results than the previous year. The final text removed all reference to the obligations on finance of any developed country.
‘Blue Cop’ was designated for COP 25 in order to raise awareness of the impacts of climate change on the ocean. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate showed that the ocean is warmer, more acidic, less productive, sea levels are on the rise and coastal events are more severe. The report also revealed the benefits of science in combination with local and indigenous knowledge to develop options for climate change risk management and resilience enhancement.
The Gender Action Plan is a successful COP 25 decision on a new five-year gender action plan (GAP) aiming to support the implementation of gender-related decisions and mandated in the UNFCCC process. Calls were made for greater focus on implementation and scaling up gender-just climate solutions.
What has Thailand achieved?
H.E. Mr. Varawut Silpa-archa also announced during COP 25, “…We have successfully achieved 14-per-cent greenhouse gas emission reduction in 2017 in the energy and transport sectors. This doubled the amount of our unconditionally NAMA pledge of 7 per cent compared to Business as usual (BAU). To enhance our post 2020 actions, we are strengthening our system, building our capacity and putting in place necessary NDC mitigation and adaptation architectures to align our domestic actions with the Paris Agreement goal…”
What is Thailand doing in terms of climate policy to save the country and its people from climate emergency?
The climate goal set by Thailand is to achieve 20-25 per cent GHG reduction by 2030. The Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) has already made climate policy movements in cooperation with related government agencies, international development agencies, civil society as well as the private sector. Examples are as follows:
Thailand Climate Change Master Plan (2015-2050)
Thailand’s National Determined Contributions
Thailand’s NDC Roadmap on Mitigation 2021-2030
Thailand’s National Adaptation Plan
NDC Sectoral Action Plans (formulated by individual sectors)
Amongst others, these plans also rely on all other government agencies to enforce the policies and put them into action as well as strong cooperation from the private sectors, civil society and citizens.
How would Thailand make sure that actions are taken?
Currently, ONEP is in the process of drafting Thailand’s first Climate Change Act with support from GIZ (funded by German government) and the UK government. The first draft is due at the end of 2020. It will also strengthen financial mechanisms, with Thailand’s Climate Initiative (ThaiCI) being established to support funding for climate change implementation at the sub-national level as well as for the private sector through existing environmental funds.
How far is Thailand looking ahead?
ONEP is in the process of developing the country’s first Long Term Strategy for Climate Change. The strategy will be formulated in line with the Climate Change Master Plan (CCMP) 2015-2050 that was approved in 2014 and built upon the NDC Roadmap 2030 to achieve low GHG emissions and climate-resilient growth.
The challenges that might arise
Dr. Anusorn Chinvanno, International Relations expert, Climate Change Policy committee stated during the dissemination meeting on 14 January 2020 that, “Thailand might be under pressure from both less developed countries and developed countries in raising the emission reduction goal. We will have to prepare how to tackle what could happen in the near future”.
“The USA’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement will take effect at the earliest on 4 November 2020. This will result in a decrease of international aid from the USA and has prompted fears that more countries will also withdraw”.
Is Thailand fighting alone?
As climate change impact is global, everywhere and everyone on the planet will experience it at different rates. Hence, cooperation across the globe is imperative. Many countries have offered various types of assistance such as funding, technical know-how, capacity building and technology. Germany is one of the countries offering different types of assistance in coping with climate change. Thailand and Germany have cooperated for a decade through GIZ with funding from the German government.
During the COP 25 Debriefing, Mr. Tim Mahler, Director of GIZ Thailand and Malaysia stated: “…International negotiations should give guidance and establish a common framework for better understanding of the country’s situation regarding needs and capacities. GIZ Thailand supports ONEP and our other Thai government partners to meet the new requirements through capacity building within the agencies. The COP 25 demonstrated that climate diplomacy is still important, indeed even more important today, in combination with domestic efforts to achieve the global climate goal of the Paris Agreement. We are honoured to support Thailand in this task.”
The next round of climate talks are scheduled to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, in November 2020.
Cooperation at all levels, from inter-governmental agencies, sectoral, national to global, is imperative. The legislative or political bodies must put into law all the policies to save our world and its population from the climate crisis. Enforcement is needed from all other mandated authorities. Compliance from all sectors is required and cooperation from every individual is the bottom-line.
Thailand Climate Change Master Plan (2015-2050) was designed to provide the framework for all sectors in order to formulate an implementation plan to achieve sustainable low carbon growth and climate change resilience by 2050.
Thailand’s National Determined Contributions include Thailand’s mitigation and adaptation measures and policies with the intent to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20-25 percent from the projected business-as-usual (BAU) level by 2030.
Thailand’s NDC Roadmap on Mitigation 2021-2030 provides a tangible mitigation action plan in the identified sectors including energy and transport, waste management, and industrial processes and product use sectors.
Thailand’s National Adaptation Plan provides
government agencies and other related entities at the national and local levels with implementation framework, good practices, approaches and guidelines for developing their own strategies, management plans, and action plans suitable for individual sectors and areas
financial agencies with budget allocation framework, and
a strong foundation and development of climate resilient approaches and readiness for the people to be able to adapt to climate change.
NDC Sectoral Action Plans detail the mitigation actions for each sector defined in the NDC Roadmap 2021-2030.
In addition, Thailand is discussing gender mainstreaming into domestic climate policies to improve the planned measures to address the needs of vulnerable groups and support gender equality.
Photo credit: Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP)
Sources: unclimatesummit.org,germanwatch.org, onep.go.th, unenvironment.org