‘Without private sector in tow, Thai government cannot achieve sustainability goals’
Thailand's government should speed up the country's sustainable development and ensure that private companies are achieving their own sustainable goals, experts from Baker & McKenzie said during a seminar at The Athenee Hotel in Bangkok on Friday.
During the seminar on "Sustainability and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)", the company's partner, Yuthana Sivaraks, said ESG has been trending since the launch of the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty that commits states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in December 11, 1997.
He added that the move to deal with greenhouse gas emissions had changed from voluntary to mandatory after the Paris Agreement, an international treaty on climate change, was adopted in 2015.
The Thai government is working on drafting a climate change act to meet with international requirements, he said.
He pointed out that a solid database on greenhouse gas emissions is necessary for setting up rules to drive Thailand towards carbon neutrality by 2050 and become net-zero by 2065.
He said the government plans to appoint its agencies, such as Agriculture, Transport, Interior and Industry ministries, to collect carbon footprint data from private organisations in order to set up rules related to carbon footprint.
He expects the government's new climate change department to be established by this year.
"The climate change department is being established to ensure transparency in the greenhouse gas reduction process," he said, adding that any organisations that conceal information related to carbon footprint should face punishment.
He added that some countries have adopted carbon labelling, which shows greenhouse gas emitted from the production of each item.
Another partner, Bulin Sanooj, said sustainable development trends are forcing the government and private sectors to pay attention to the impact of climate change on environment, personnel and governance.
He added that sustainable development trends also posed difficulties to private companies in accessing funding.
"Companies can no longer focus only on profit now," he said.
He advised the government to launch policies that would facilitate private companies to access funding for sustainable development.
Citing the company's survey of more than 1,000 business entrepreneurs worldwide, Bulin said only 38% of entrepreneurs had adopted a plan to achieve the net-zero goal.
He added that 40% of entrepreneurs are at risk of failure, as they have set too high a sustainability target.
He advised entrepreneurs to zoom in on their pain points first, so they will be able to achieve their sustainable goals easily.
Baker & McKenzie Environmental Specialist Muanjit Chamsilpa said Thailand had introduced the bio-circular-green economy model to drive the country towards sustainability by utilising technology and existing resources to the fullest.
"The BCG model is also in line with 14 United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals," she said.
However, she pointed out that Thailand needed to adopt laws to facilitate the government and private sectors to achieve key sustainable goals, such as carbon credit and tax benefits for using bioplastic or reforestation.
"Thailand would not be able to achieve sustainable goals if the private sector does not work on this issue first," she said.
Echoing Bulin, she advised companies to pay attention to production cost while working on sustainable development, such as changing materials and using solar panels.
Another environment specialist, Dhiranantha Rithmanee, said several organisations are paying attention to saving energy in a bid to gain benefit from cost reduction and carbon credit.
She said the European Union has the most advanced regulations on tackling climate change, such as cross-border taxation and hydrogen production. "More regulations could be launched in the future," she said.
She added that Thailand is working on the first phase of climate change mitigation taxonomy, focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the energy and transport sectors.
Energy and transport are considered the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in Thailand.
She added that Thailand is setting up a mechanism that would allow companies to trade carbon credit both physically and virtually.