Thailand must tackle climate change or pay the ‘economic price’

national June 18, 2016 01:00

By Yosawadee Namnart
The Nation

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IF THAILAND fails to tackle its climate-change challenges it won’t be able to get out of the middle-income-country trap, according to the Office of National Economic and Social Development Board.

The office’s deputy secretary general Ladawan Kumpa highlighted this fact yesterday at the forum “Paris Agreement and Beyond: Climate Change Benefits for Sustainable Development”. 
In April, Thailand signed the Paris Agreement in support of the long-term goal of limiting global warming to well below 2C.
“We have to pay attention to climate-change issues if we want to enjoy sustainable development and transform into a rich country,” Ladawan said. 
She was a speaker at the forum, which was jointly presided over by Martin Hart-Hansen, deputy resident representative at the United Nations Development Programme – Thailand, and Natural Resources and Environment Ministry deputy permanent secretary Jatuporn Buruspat. 
“Changes in the climate have caused impacts on all sectors, especially in developing countries. The global temperatures and sea level have increased and the droughts have also become severe.” Hart-Hansen said.
Ladawan also pointed out that Thailand had faced serious drought earlier this year, reflecting the needs of various sectors including farmers to recognise the threats of climate changes as well as the need to tackle them. 
“Farmers will need to understand the situation and adjust. For example, they will have to switch to plants that consume less water,” she said. 
Thailand’s agricultural sector remains an important driving force for its economy. With climate change hovering as a threat, farmers are at risk and so is the country’s productivity and economic growth. Ladawan said all sectors in Thailand should join forces in addressing the climate change. She believes that the private and public sectors in Thailand have become more aware of climate change and have been gearing towards making the economy cleaner and more resilient in line with the Paris Agreement.
Dr Phirun Saiyasitpani, the chief of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s management coordination division at Thailand’s Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning, said the commitments made under the Paris Agreement required significant investment from the public and private sectors. 
“We recognise that while many sources of international finance are available for developing countries, Thailand’ s domestic finance plays a greater role in supporting this agreement,” he said.
Charoen Pokphand Group vice chairman Suphachai Chearavanont said at the forum that the group implemented sustainable measures where possible. 
“Companies in our group have recognised the need to address climate change,” he said. 
“But the private sector should not be left to shoulder the investments in fighting global warming alone. This is because the burden is too huge; businesses won’t be able to run further. That way, we can’t call it sustainable development.” 
The United Nations Development Programme and the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry have developed Climate Change Benefit Analysis guidelines as a tool for analysing the effectiveness of projects used for addressing climate change. This tool can also help determine if investments are worthwhile.