By Pratch Rujivanarom
However, a climate-change activist still has concerns that development plans are in conflict with the goal of limiting global warming.
Last month, at the COP21 climate change summit in Paris, countries agreed to cap the rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius above those that existed before the industrial era.
Prasert Sirinapaporn, director of the Climate Change Management and Coordination Division, which is part of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, said Thailand had a good chance of fulfilling the commitment it made at COP21.
“Thailand’s plan to meet the goal will be carried out widely across all sectors, but for this year we will focus on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions in two major sectors – power and transportation,” he said.
“We are progressing well and as of now we have already achieved a greenhouse-gas reduction of 4 per cent, and by 2020 we may have a chance to achieve more than our aim,” he said.
Prasert explained that much effort was now being made in order to bring the Kingdom closer to achieving its goal, such as the promotion of biofuel in the transport sector, and boosting power efficiency, use of renewable energy and a power-saving plan in the power-production sector.
Under the Power Development Plan 2015 (PDP2015), the use of renewable energy will increase from |9 per cent of all kinds of energy sources last year to 11 per cent this year, and gradually grow to 20 per cent by 2036.
However, Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaign director Tara Buakamsri was sceptical about the chances of reaching the greenhouse-gas reduction goal. He believes national development plans are essentially in conflict with attempts to achieve the target.
“A good example of this contradiction is PDP2015. The plan does not sufficiently concentrate on low-carbon renewable energy such as wind or solar power, but instead it indicates that coal, which is dirty and polluting, is supported in the plan,” Tara said.
According to PDP2015, the power-source proportion accounted for by coal is 24 per cent for this year, up from 20 per cent for 2015. Moreover, coal’s share will rise to 27 per cent by 2024.
The plan made it clear that more use of coal was sought to decrease the reliance on natural gas, which has been the country’s main energy source for many years.
“Even though there were already calculations for renewable energy and power saving in the PDP plan to reduce the country’s overall greenhouse-gas emission, there was no calculation for the carbon emission from the electricity that we buy from our neighbours, or for carbon from privately owned power plants and the industrial sector,” Tara explained.
By March this year, the final phase of the Hongsa coal-fired power plant in Laos would be completed and it would start selling electricity to Thailand.
The plant’s first two phases have been sending power to the Kingdom’s grid since they came on stream last year.
The total power purchase from the Hongsa plant is 1,473 megawatts.
Tara said the consequences of global warming were starting to manifest themselves around the world, and that Thailand itself had recently faced severe drought and major coastline erosion, both of which were the direct impact of climate change.
“If we do nothing, these natural disasters will be occurring more frequently, and will be getting worse,” he warned.