By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM
CIVIC GROUPS will push next week for the creation of a climate fund for victims of climate change, bottom-up climate policies and the empowerment of local people to boost climate resilience, when they meet at a United Nations sponsored conference in Bangkok.
Civil society organisations, activists and people affected by the adverse impact of climate change from across Thailand yesterday gathered at Chulalongkorn University to talk about climate change and offer recommendations for climate change prevention and mitigation.
The recommendations are primarily intended to build local capacity for communities to prepare for, adapt and mitigate climate change. They will be submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and then to global delegates attending a climate conference to be held at the UN Conference Centre in Bangkok from September 4 to 9.
Climate change presents a huge problem for all of mankind, said Preeda Kongpaen, an executive at the Chumchon Thai (Thai Community) Foundation. It is vital that local people and communities take part in the effort to reverse climate change, as they are the first to suffer its impacts.
“Previous climate change negotiation forums were mostly negotiations between the superpower nations, the elite and big conglomerates,” Preeda said.
“However, poor local people, who are on the frontline and are hit the hardest by climate change, do not normally have the chance to raise their voices and make demands to the climate negotiation forums.”
Therefore, she said, the conference in Bangkok next week will be give them a great opportunity to raise their concerns and suggestions about climate policies.
She said it is important that civil society is not left out of what she deems “the most important missions of humanity of this |century” – promoting sustainable development and reversing climate change.
Among the major suggestions presented to the meeting yesterday was the creation of a climate-change relief fund for people affected by the changes.
Other suggestions included promoting renewable energy, phasing fossil fuels out of the national Power Development Plan, modernising related laws and regulations and revising the 20-year national strategies to include mitigating climate change and promoting food security.
Poor most vulnerable
Maitree Jongkraijug, coordinator of Community Disaster Management Network, noted that poor, rural and marginalised people were the most vulnerable to changing climate, including extreme weather and the environmental degradation being brought about by the changes.
Yet these groups are not receiving remedies or compensation for their losses. Maitree said this is largely because Thai authorities have, so far, failed to recognise that the impacts of climate change, including coastal erosion, are national disasters and qualify for compensation.
“Many people regard the impacts from climate change as natural disasters, but actually they are manmade disasters, because our activities and consumption emit large amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere and cause climate change,” he said.
“However, poor and marginalised people contribute the lowest proportion of greenhouse gases emission in contrast to the wealthy elite and big conglomerates, which emit the largest amount of greenhouse gases but suffer the least impacts.”
Those who contribute to global warming should be held responsible for their actions by paying a carbon tax to a climate change relief fund, which would be used to help those affected, as per the “polluter pays” principle.
Maitree also said the lack of understanding and awareness about climate change among local people presents a challenge. Raising awareness and education is very important for empowering local people and helping them better prepare for upcoming disasters.
“It is also important that these people are included in the global effort to mitigate climate change, so as to ensure climate policies are suitable for all parties and will not cause further adverse impacts on the most marginalised people,” Maitree concluded.