By THE NATION
As skyscrapers, concrete and roads dominate most of the capital and cars and air-conditioners pump out greenhouse gases, the city needs to fight to stay cool, experts say.
According to the head of the Bangkok environment department’s division tasked with dealing with climate change, solutions include getting more people to use public transportation, tackling traffic congestion, increasing use of alternative fuels like biodiesel, adding more green space and reducing the use of electricity.
In a seminar held by Urban Futures and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), environment division head Sermsook Noppapan said there were plans to build more bicycle lanes in the city. He also said that more traffic lights will be added to ease the flow of traffic and people will be urged to reduce the use of electricity, beginning with Earth Hour on March 30 when Bangkokians will join others around the world in switching off lights for an hour.
“We also plan to create more public parks and plant trees in unused land and along walls as well as restore the mangrove forest in Bang Khun Thian district,” Sermsook added.
Apart from that, the city also needs to come up with plans to deal with other challenges such as more rain, floods and disease.
Rising temperatures plus a high population makes Bangkok residents susceptible to dengue fever outbreaks, Suppakorn Chinvanno, climate change impact specialist from Southeast Asia START Regional Centre, said.
Insects will begin carrying more diseases as the city warms and rains become more frequent, he said, adding that standing water brought on by floods is a perfect breeding ground for dengue-carrying mosquitoes. The city needs to address this problem, he said.
Climate change may not seem relevant to our everyday lives, but already perceivable effects of global warming include more frequent, unseasonal rain, drought and coastal erosion, Thammasat University’s design lecturer Asst Professor Wijitbusaba Ann Marome said. “And heavy flooding can greatly affect communities,” she added.
Hence, she said, members of all communities, temples and schools need to share how these problems affect their neighbourhoods and their lives so city planners can solve them, she said. City planners can remedy the growing impacts of climate change through zoning and planning, she said.