Looking Forward after COP26: Thai-German Cooperation in Combating Climate Change
Following Thailands pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2065, the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) in collaboration with Thai-German Climate Programme – Policy, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, organised a symposium titled “COP26 Debrief: Global Future, Thai Future” on 16 December 2021 at the Ballroom, Centara Grand Hotel Central Ladprao, Bangkok, to disseminate and summarise the results of the 26th session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 26).
This symposium also provided a forum for those involved to share their insights and strategies for action on climate change and was honoured to have the participation of representatives of the Energy Policy and Planning Office, Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning, Office of the Board of Investment, and Bank of Thailand. More than 300 people from government agencies, the private sector, the educational sector, the public sector, media, and independent organisations attended the event.
In his keynote address, Mr. Varawut Silpa-archa, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE), stated: "Working on climate change comprises both carbon emissions and sequestration. MoNRE has an important mission in regard to sequestration in addition to being Thailand's national focal point on climate change. Increasing the country's forested and green areas by 55%, as specified in the 20-year national strategic framework, is an effort to increase the number of carbon sinks. Many ministries, including the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, and other relevant sectors, must collaborate to reduce carbon emissions. All sectors must work together.”
“From now on, ONEP will continue to work closely with all relevant sectors in all forms to ensure Thailand's operations are successful,” added Dr. Phirun Saiyasitpanich, Secretary-General of ONEP.
The forum noted that it was gratifying to see that many agencies have now begun to actively drive their work in carbon sequestration. The Ministry of Energy has amended the National Energy Plan to transition into the Energy Disruption era through the 4D + 1E scheme — Digitalization is adopting modern technology to increase energy efficiency and efficiency and to push Thailand to become an ASEAN energy center; Decarbonization is reducing the consumption of fossil fuels and coal use while increasing the production and use of electricity generated from solar cells, biomass, and biogas; Deregulation is unlocking regulations on electricity generation and trading to help prosumers reduce electricity purchase costs; Decentralization is the delegation of authority to local governments and the promotion of community energy management; and Electrification means fostering the electrification of everything, conducting and expanding the electric train network, and promoting the utilisation of electric vehicles (EV).
Meanwhile, the transport and transportation sector has shown its commitment to developing infrastructure to manage rail and waterway travel for people and goods. In the financial and investment promotion sectors, players have made efforts to promote and support green businesses, both through policy and infrastructure, such as the issuance of tax exemption measures for investment in renewable energy, greenhouse gas storage technology for the petrochemical industry, and encouraging large corporations to invest in small-scale agriculture, such as low-carbon rice cultivation. Also being encouraged is the domestic production of electric vehicles as well as investment in research and development.
H.E. Mr. Georg Schmidt, the German Ambassador to Thailand, remarked, "There is an apparent contradiction between ecology and economy, but it’s not either/or. It is much more expensive to do nothing than to do something. The government can set the rules, so the transition is fair to everyone. We also need people for the change. Without the people, nothing would happen. It’s a challenge for Thailand. It’s a challenge for Germany. It’s a challenge for the world.
Mr. Varawut also addressed efforts to integrate climate change information and understanding into the education sector, which is an intriguing aspect. He also made the point that climate finance is critical to enabling conditions for Thailand's transition to a low-carbon society. For more than a decade, Germany and Thailand have actively and continuously collaborated to combat climate change in numerous projects, and Germany will continue to support Thailand in the year to come, providing climate funds totalling up to 1.5 billion baht.
"Our thanks go to the German government for their ongoing assistance in working with Thailand and understanding Thai people. I sincerely hope that next year, when Thailand and Germany celebrate our 160th anniversary of friendship, good things will happen," Mr. Varawut said.