Thailand is a strong supporter of the United Nations, especially its agency the UNEP (United Nations Environment Program). The mission for UNEP is to provide leadership and encourage partnerships for caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations, and people to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. Thailand has contributed to UNEP by signing and ratifying many conventions, and resolutions that combat climate change, particularly, the PARIS AGREEMENT COP21. The delegation of Thailand recognises combating climate change, as the need of the hour. Over 80% of all natural disasters are as a result of climate change.
Green house gases trap heat in the atmosphere causing the earth to become warmer, which changes the climate. Examples of green house gases are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, water vapour, and fluorinated gases. Carbon dioxide is the major green house gas resulting in climate change or global warming. Green house gases are produced from day to day activities like driving, use of electricity, and heaters. Some countries produce more green house gases than others.
Despite that, green house gases become mixed and its effects are the same globally.Agricultural Production, and Health, are the two main areas which are adversely affected by climate change in Thailand. Thailand which is the world’s largest exporter of rice (also called as rice bowl of Asia), experienced a series of consecutive dry years leaving the water reservoirs dry, and forcing the cultivation of rice to be reduced. In particular, Mekong basin in Thailand had very low water levels. This led to many farmers losing their livelihood and falling into debt. Further, heavy rainfall in 2016 has flooded and damaged over 590,000 acres of farmland. Areas along the Gulf of Thailand are likely to suffer prolonged flooding. It is obvious that climate change has affected productivity, and development, of Thailand.
Temperature rise in Thailand led to the sea level rise between 12 and 22 centimetres over the last century. Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, may disappear into the sea within 20 years, if the problem is not addressed. Rising sea levels lead to extreme flooding as was seen in 2011, and late 2016. Flooding leads to water-borne diseases and insect borne diseases such as Dengue fever, and Malaria.
Malnutrition is bound to increase too. WHO (World Health Organisation) predicts 79 million people in Thailand will be affected by malaria by the year 2070 if climate change persists. Tourism and trade are also adversely affected by climate change.To address this issue, In May 2007, ‘The Bangkok declaration of mitigation of climate change’, was signed by the Governor of Bangkok. This declaration aims to reduce the city’s contribution to climate change by reducing emissions of green house gases, by utilizing mass transit system, constructing bike lanes, and pedestrian walk ways, promoting efficient use of electrical appliances, and air conditioners, through reuse and recycle, plant trees in public parks to absorb carbon dioxide. In addition to these, the government of Thailand also included a gradual shift to organic agriculture, use of the ‘Kings technique’, to produce artificial rain that could be used to raise crops during dry spells, a Tsunami warning system along the Andaman sea, and construction of flood preventing wall around Bangkok. Scientists will be able to measure the success of these measures shortly in combating climate change.
However, efforts by all nations of the globe are needed to reduce green house effects, and to help Thailand survive climate change. It is worthwhile to reiterate the words of the former president of USA, Mr. Barack Obama, that: “NO CHALLENGE POSES A GREATER THREAT TO FUTURE GENERATIONS THAN CLIMATE CHANGE” – BARACK OBAMAMany Countries adopted the ‘PARIS AGREEMENT’, COP21 (21st conference of the parties), which came into force on 4 Nov, 2016. As per this, all countries will work to limit global temperature rise to below 2?. Implementation of COP21 is essential to achieve sustainable environmental goals, especially climate change. A high-level commission has determined that, in order to achieve the Paris climate goals, carbon pricing is necessary. A price of USD40-80 per tonne of carbon dioxide by the year 2020 and USD50-100 per tonne of carbon dioxide by the year 2030 is essential.
Carbon pricing ties the cost incurred by damage to crops, property, and health due to carbon emissions, to the countries or industries that exceed permissible level of green house gases. This shifts the burden of damage to the responsible parties. Carbon Pricing offers other benefits like reducing other air pollutants, and generates revenues for climate measures.
Non-Governmental organisations for environmental protection and other civil society groups serve as a vital counterweight to the green house gas emitting industries, and play an important role in climate change. The UN has in-house expertise on climate change, and disaster risk reduction issues, as well as access to global expertise, and can assist Thailand in identifying best practices to combat climate change. UN can and must support Thailand in addressing climate change by enhancing inter-ministerial coordination and, through its broader convening role, reaching out to other global partners, and to the public at large.