Tackling climate change a united battle, Varawut says at COP27
Climate change affects every life on Earth, and to mitigate that, Thailand aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 to 25% by 2030.
This declaration was made at the 27th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Parties, or Conference of the Parties (COP 27).
The November 6 to 18 meeting is being held at Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt.
The target, announced in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) segment of the forum, will be met from three key aspects, namely energy and transport; industrial procedures and product usage; and community waste management.
Thailand’s Natural Resources and Environment Ministry will be in charge of meeting the NDCs by promoting investment in low-carbon industries such as renewable energy, electric vehicles and waste-to-energy systems. The aim will also be to ensure the public’s well-being by creating environmentally friendly infrastructure and green employment.
The ministry is also committed to enhancing Thailand’s competitiveness by promoting the government’s bio-circular-green (BCG) economy model as a key driver to sustainability and environmental preservation.
Thailand keeps its promise
As the country’s representative at COP27, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa said Thailand had not arrived “empty-handed”.
“This year we entered COP27 with a fulfilled promise that we would submit a revised Long-Term Low Greenhouse Gas Emissions Development Strategy [LT-LEDS] to the conference, which complies with the country’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality in 2050 and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2065,” he said.
“Furthermore, we added another goal to the NCDs – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% within 2030 under international support.”
Building international cooperation
At COP27, Varawut highlighted Thailand’s work on tackling climate change and environmental problems, as well as what it plans to do in the future.
“Though Thailand is not among superpower countries, we have full commitment in this aspect and have achieved several tangible results,” he said.
The minister added that Thailand is one of the first countries to tackle climate change under Article 6.2 of the Paris Agreement. It has done this by recently signing a pact with Switzerland on carbon credit trade, technology transfer and fund support.
“In a sideline meeting during the COP27 conference, we also discussed with representatives from the Netherlands about the possibility of establishing a water-related cooperation under the ‘Water as Leverage’ concept,” Varawut said.
He said this effort aims to tackle flooding in the Chao Phraya River Basin due to rising sea levels, which is worsening due to climate change.
Varawut said the Netherlands has devised a successful water-management project that could be applied to Thailand.
“Many of their ideas, research, innovations and tools can be further improved to benefit Thailand,” he said.
He added that the COP27 stage also provided him with the opportunity to speak to the US special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry about the reduction of methane gas emissions in Thailand.
“Methane is 26 to 28 times more harmful than carbon dioxide,” Varawut said. “We agreed to work with the US in reducing methane emissions from the agricultural and animal husbandry sectors. Thailand will enter into an agreement with the US after discussing the details with the Labour and Agriculture and Cooperative ministries, and receiving a green light from the Cabinet.”
Setting up a loss and damage fund
Loss and damage was another key issue covered at COP27. This fund aims to get developed countries responsible for releasing most of the greenhouse gases to compensate poor countries suffering from climate change caused by these emissions.
Varawut said in the past few years, Thailand has been hit badly by the impact of climate change, especially by flash floods due to increased rainfall and droughts that are getting more severe. This has prompted the government to make increasing water conservation levels part of the national agenda, he said.
“I support the establishment of a Loss and Damage Fund to help countries most affected by climate change,” Varawut said. “Even though Thailand was ranked 22nd among greenhouse gas emitters and is responsible for only 0.8% of global greenhouse gases, we are in the 9th place globally for countries suffering the most from climate change.”
He added that developed countries should contribute US$2 million (about 71.70 million baht) to the fund per year to help poor countries fight climate change sustainably.
Every party should change
Climate change will worsen floods, droughts and other natural disasters, and Thailand should be prepared and start changing under tangible operational plans, Varawut said.
“It’s not easy to change one person’s behaviour and their way of life, let alone changing those of an entire country,” he said. “All Thai citizens from all sectors, including agriculture, industrial and business, should work together on this front, and I will show the world our progress in dealing with climate change at COP28 in Abu Dhabi next year.”
Varawut added that Thailand was applauded at COP27 for taking a leading role in tackling climate change. This, he said, was only possible due to the dedication of both private and public sectors over the past few years.
“Everybody should be aware of the impact of climate change and work together on the environmental front. Creating a meaningful change is not one man’s job, as the impact of climate change will affect us all indiscriminately. However, we can all make small changes,” Varawut said.
“The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry will continue being the central agency that promotes and coordinates cooperation from all parties, so we can survive this crisis together.”