Tue, June 28, 2022

in-focus

Govt hits back at PM2.5 lawsuit, insists Thailand’s air quality is improving


The government insisted it was tackling dangerous PM2.5 smog as part of the national agenda on Thursday, two days after being sued over pollution levels in Thailand.

On Tuesday, environmental groups including Greenpeace filed a lawsuit against three government agencies – the Industry Ministry, National Resources and Environment Ministry and National Environmental Board – accusing them of failing to protect citizens’ right to clean air. PM2.5 haze, which regularly blankets Bangkok and other large cities, is linked with premature death from lung and heart conditions.

On Thursday, the government insisted its agencies had launched various measures to tackle pollution, including monitoring vehicle emissions, a ban on burning sugarcane, ridding forests of flammable material and tackling smog in neighbouring countries.

New vehicle emission standards to reduce black exhaust smoke will come into effect on April 13, it said.

Govt hits back at PM2.5 lawsuit, insists Thailand’s air quality is improving

"Meanwhile, the government has asked the Asean Secretariat to extend the plan to tackle smog in neighbouring countries for another five years and introduce joint Asean key performance indicator [KPI] to reduce hotspots in the region by 20 per cent this year," said a spokesperson.

Standards for PM2.5 pollution were also being improved, they added.

Among the accusations in the lawsuit filed on Tuesday was that Thailand’s safe limit for PM2.5 remains too high at 50 micrograms (mcg) per millilitre of air when the WHO says it should not exceed 15mcg.

The government went on to say that air pollution situation is improving gradually thanks to its actions.

"From November 1 last year to March 15, PM2.5 readings in Bangkok and surrounding areas exceeded the [50mcg] standard 26 times, down 61 per cent compared to 67 times for the same period in the previous year," the government said.

"Meanwhile, air pollution in 17 northern provinces between January 1 and March 15 this year exceeded the standard on 38 days, down 45 per cent compared to 69 days in the previous period."

Govt hits back at PM2.5 lawsuit, insists Thailand’s air quality is improving

Citing data from the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, the government said that the number of hotspots in Thailand between January 1 and March 15 this year was 31,082, down 61 per cent.

It added that further progress was necessary to control air pollution, such as reducing fires in forest and agriculture areas, and smog in neighbouring countries.

"Meanwhile, cooperation from every sector is necessary as everyone can cause air pollution," the government said.

Published : March 25, 2022

By : THE NATION