Thailand’s Draft Climate Change Act
Countries around the world have given significant attention to climate change legislation, with many national, regional, and global attempts to slow the momentum of climate change. The most notable of these multilateral efforts is the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change currently adopted by 193 parties. Its goal is to limit the global average temperature to well below 2°C (preferably below 1.5°C) above preindustrial levels, and the treaty’s coordinated efforts to combat climate change are much more ambitious than previous global agreements and discussions.
Article 4 of the Paris Agreement requires countries to provide “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs), consisting of their action plans for climate action. Thailand, as a party to the Paris Agreement, has put forth an NDC that pledges to achieve an unconditional greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction target of 20% from the business-as-usual projection for 2030, with the possibility of increasing that target to 25% subject to adequate and enhanced access to technology development and transfer, financial resources, and other support.
To enable the accomplishment of this pledge, Thailand is looking to enact climate change legislation that functions as a key mechanism for domestic climate action. In 2018, the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment was assigned to prepare a draft Climate Change Act. The draft is now complete, and according to news reports it is set to be submitted to the cabinet for further consideration.
The draft Climate Change Act lays out Thailand’s action plan for climate change mitigation and adaptation, including emissions reductions. Some of the key sections in the draft law involve citizen rights, the National Climate Change Policy Committee, and a national GHG database.
Rights of Citizens
The draft establishes the rights of citizens regarding climate change, which include the right to receive climate change information from the state, the right to participate by giving information and opinions in efforts to fight climate change, and the right to receive government support for projects that seek to combat climate change and for climate adaptation operations.
National Climate Change Policy Committee
The National Climate Change Policy Committee can suggest climate change-related policies and measures, such as GHG emissions reduction, climate change adaptation, and climate change management, to the cabinet and relevant governmental agencies. The committee is in charge of proposing the National Master Plan on Climate Change for the cabinet’s approval and is responsible for executing the National GHG Emission Reduction Plan and the National Adaptation Plan.
The draft also calls for a national GHG database to be developed and administered by the ONEP. The database is to include records of the quantity of anthropogenic GHG emission and their sources, the quantity of GHG that has been sequestered, and the net GHG reduction. To facilitate and support the national GHG database, various state agencies are required to report the ONEP data regarding activities of GHG emission, sequestration, and reduction, including:
- Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation;
- Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives;
- Ministry of Transport;
- Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment;
- Ministry of Energy;
- Ministry of Interior;
- Ministry of Public Health;
- Ministry of Industry; and
- Other state agencies to be assigned by the cabinet.
In maintaining the database, the ONEP and aforementioned agencies may also request information from other state agencies as well as private entities (e.g., factory operators, energy operators, owners of controlled factories and buildings under the energy conversation promotion law, etc.).
Private entities that do not provide GHG-related information to the ONEP or the relevant state agencies without reasons, provide them with false GHG-related information or conceal GHG-related information to cause damages to others will be subject to administrative penalties.
Upon enactment of the Climate Change Act, the citizen rights described above will be established. Various national plans are deployed under the act for ensuring that Thailand will take the climate change agenda seriously. Nonetheless, the act in its current draft form mostly prescribes broadly administrative action, notably giving power to state agencies and the new committee for requesting GHG data. There is not yet any mention regarding methods for providing remedies to citizens. Procedures for safeguarding, protecting, and providing remedial measures to affected persons will therefore be a significant challenge for this regulation.