Thailand’s Climate Change Master Plan 2015 - 2050
Thailand is facing major a challenge to sustainable development, namely the global phenomenon that is climate change. Initially linked to the burst in economic development heralded by the industrial revolutions of developed countries, climate change is now also the product of industrial activity which has spread inexorably to other nations with aspirations to the epithet of “developed”. This has dramatically accelerated the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and exacerbated the severity of climate change. Climate change is now very much a global problem which affects not only the developed countries but also developing countries such as Thailand in two major ways:
Firstly, the changing weather patterns have a profound effect on Thailand’s economy. Thailand’s agricultural sector is a key pillar of the national economy which has lately been battered by the unpredictability and extreme variations in weather conditions caused by climate change. The changing climatic conditions have also resulted in changes to the patterns of how diseases spread as agents of diseases mutate to the changing conditions, leading to the re-emergence of infectious diseases thought to have been previously eradicated or contained. A disrupted ecological balance disrupts Thailand’s ability to plan for sustainable development, maintain economic growth and address poverty issues. Climate change directly threatens Thailand’s livelihood by challenging the conservation and management of natural resources.
Secondly, Thailand must face the complex challenges posed by greenhouse emissions. Rapid urbanization has resulted in an exponential rise in energy consumption, placing great pressure on an energy grid that relies chiefly on fossil fuels for energy production. This creates tension against the imperatives to address greenhouse gas emissions and adds another layer of complexity to Thailand’s efforts in confronting and adapting to climate change. The complexity does not end there; the growing importance of climate change in the eyes of the international community has led to the establishment of various initiatives for cooperation among nations which have introduced yet more tension to Thailand’s balancing act. Thailand can ill afford to shirk such responsibilities, yet in striving to meet the demands of international plans to tackle global climate change Thailand is placed in a handicapped position against partners and competitors alike who are enacting trading regulations from a position of technical advantage and greater economic maturity. Examples of the newly initiated rules concerning climate change include the EU ETS regulations for the aviation industry and mandatory carbon footprint labelling. As a country with an export-driven economy, Thailand cannot avoid being affected by these new regulatory responsibilities.
In recognition of the need for said cooperation, Thailand has participated in the early stages of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a member state in 1991 as well as the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in 2002 which brought the treaty into effect. As an early and regular participant of the international climate change resolutions framework meetings, it behoved Thailand to have a national strategy to handle the climate issues affecting the country.
To that end, Thailand first formulated the National Strategic Plan on Climate Change 2551-2555 B.E. (2008-2013). The cabinet passed a resolution on the 22nd January 2008 which ordered all government departments and agencies concerned to apply the strategy as a framework for planning. This was recently reinforced with the Climate Change Master Plan 2558-2593 B.E. (2015-2050) which has been developed as framework for long term planning. The expectation is that the parties concerned will use the framework contained within the Master Plan to develop an effective plan of action to tackle climate change in their respective areas.