The latest UN climate change report says Thailand's carbon emissions are rising ''very quickly'', prompting environmental agencies to promise action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The report, ''Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world'', by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), concluded Thailand's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose very quickly at an average 12.8% a year between 1990 and 2004.
Moreover, the country's per capita emissions stand at 4.2 tonnes a year, higher than China (3.8 tonnes), Indonesia (1.7 tonnes), and India (1.2 tonnes).
The country now ranks 22nd among the world's top 30 CO2 emitters. The United States is still the world's number one with 6,046 tonnes a year, followed by China (5,007), and Russia (1,524), according to the 384-page report released yesterday.
Kasemsun Chinnavaso, secretary-general of the Office of Natural Resources and Environment Policy and Planning (Onep), which is in charge of the country's global warming and climate change mitigation scheme, said the figures were quite alarming.
The government must step up measures to cut emissions otherwise Thailand could be put on the Annex I list of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
Annex I countries are legally bound to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
''The country ranked 31st [among the world's top CO2 emitters] in 2000. The fast climb might be because of the country's intense economic development,'' said Mr Kasemsun.
He said the government must provide greater support for the use of renewable and clean fuels, particularly in the transportation and energy sectors.
The Onep had also pinned its hopes on the 15 clean energy projects currently being implemented in Thailand, which would help cut CO2 emissions by 12 million tonnes a year, he said.
The projects have been implemented under the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism designed to help industrialised countries cut their greenhouse gases emissions by investing in clean technology in developing countries.
UNDP's climate change adviser Martin Krause, urged policy makers to put a price on carbon emissions, especially from coal use, saying this could be an effective way to minimise CO2 emissions.
''Currently, coal is the cheapest for power generation, but also generates a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions. We should introduce a carbon tax to limit emission amounts,'' he said at a press conference to launch the report in Bangkok.
The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand has plans to build four coal-fired power plants with a total of 3,200 megawatts scheduled to come on line from 2013 to 2016.
Gwi-Yeop Son, UNDP Resident Representative in Thailand, said governments should allocate a specific budget to cut greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute significantly to global warming and climate change.
Experts have estimated the average annual cost of reducing emissions would amount to only 1.6% of global GDP, which represents less than two-thirds of global military spending, while, the cost of inaction could be much higher, about 5.2% of world GDP.
''Dangerous climate change is the avoidable catastrophe of the 21st century and beyond if we take action now. But if the next 15 years of emissions follow the linear trend of the past 15 years, we won't be able to avoid it,'' said Ms Son.
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