Thailand has become the world's second fastest growing carbon dioxide polluter, but could become an Asian leader in "low-carbon diet" technology, United Nations climate experts say - if the country puts proper policies in place.
Between 1990 to 2004, Thailand ranked 22nd among the world's top emitters of carbon dioxide (CO2), and seventh place in Asia after China, India, Japan, South Korea, Iran and Indonesia, according to the UN Human Development Report 2007/2008 released on Tuesday.
Thailand's CO2 emissions have grown 12.8 per cent over the last 15 years, the second-fastest growth rate worldwide after only Malaysia, which ranked 26 among global carbon dioxide polluters.
Carbon dioxide has been blamed for global warming, whose impact on humanity, especially in the poorest countries, was the focus of the UN's latest Human Development Report.
"Thailand has the chance to be a leader in the region by increasing energy efficiency while putting in place innovative incentives for alternative energy and incorporating new technologies that reduce carbon emissions," said Gwi-Yeop Son, the UN Development Programme's Thailand representative.
The UNDP will be advising developing countries at international meeting on climate change in Bali next month to start cutting the CO2 emissions through a variety of measures, including carbon taxes, by providing incentives for alternative energy sources and encouraging investment and local research in fast-growing sector.
"If Thailand wants to get ready for cutting emissions then it better embrace these new technologies to create new industries here," said Martin Krause, UNDP regional climate change advisor. "Thailand could establish itself as a hub for other countries in Asia, to become a leader in the production of clean technologies, not just as a recipient," said Krause.
Thailand is one of the many developing Asian countries that is likely to be hard hit by global warming if the average world temperature increases by more than 2 degrees centigrade by 2050, according to scientists' predictions.
For instance, Oxfam and Greenpeace earlier this month predicted that an increase of just 1 degree Celsius in night-time temperatures during the growing season will reduce Asian rice yields by 10 per cent.
Thailand and other developing countries have been urged to reduce their CO2 emissions by 20 per cent by the year 2050, when the developed countries should cut their emissions by 80 per cent, according to the goals set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
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