Thailand is projected to be severely affected by climate change, with its vulnerability shaped by geographical and socioeconomic features. The GermanWatch Global Climate Risk Index 2021 ranked Thailand’s long-term climate risk index as 9th in the world. Thailand has an extensive coastline, rural communities dependent on agriculture, and heavily populated urban areas located on flood prone plains. Climate change threatens all key sectors of Thailand’s economy: agriculture, tourism, and trade. Agriculture is also the second largest source of GHG emissions in Thailand, while rice cultivation is the main source of national methane emissions. Managed soils and livestock are also significant sources of GHG emissions. The agriculture sectors (agriculture, forestry and fisheries) employed around 30.67 percent of Thailand’s workforce (2018) and are key to provide nutrition for the rural society. Agriculture contributes 8.1 percent of Thailand’s GDP.
Thailand’s climate change plans and priorities
Thailand’s Climate Change Master Plan (CCMP) (2015-2050) is the highest-level policy document guiding the national climate change response. Thailand has updated the CCMP and will submit its revised plan at the COP26. The revised CCMP outlines the country’s aim to be carbon neutral by 2065. Supported by SCALA’s predecessor programme, Integrating Agriculture in National Adaptation Plans (NAP-Ag), the country developed the Agriculture Strategic Plan on Climate Change (ASPCC) (2017-2021), which is aligned with the CCMP and provided sectoral input to Thailand’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP). The country’s NAP aims to ensure wide buy-in to the adaptation planning process by fostering inter-ministerial, inclusive coordination and cooperation based on sharing experiences and identifying synergetic interests among key stakeholders. Thailand’s NAP and its NDC recognize the importance of adapting the agriculture sectors to climate change.
Thailand submitted its updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the UNFCCC in October 2020. The NDC identified “safeguarding of food security” and “promoting sustainable agriculture” as core strategies to cope with climate change impacts. The updated NDC reconfirms the mitigation target provided in the first NDC, which was to reduce GHG emissions by 20 percent by 2030 below the business-as-usual scenario. The updated NDC includes an enhanced and elaborated adaptation component and aims for better integration of the NDC into the national planning processes. Agriculture and land use sectors are among the sectors prioritized for climate action – both for mitigation and adaptation.
Thailand’s NDC identified adaptation as a “top priority in Thailand’s national response to climate change” and lists adaptation priorities for the country, such as promoting sustainable agriculture and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), further safeguarding biodiversity, and restoring ecological integrity in protected areas and strengthening climate modelling capacity while promoting collaboration among relevant agencies. Additionally, the country is strengthening resilience by establishing effective early warning systems and enhancing the adaptive capacity of national agencies and building the capacity of farmers by creating and providing a knowledge hub to foster regional cooperation and to share experiences
In addition to Thailand’s adaptation efforts, the country has established its mitigation efforts. According to Thailand’s Third Biennial Update Report (2020) to the UNFCCC, the proportion of GHG emissions in the energy sector accounted for 71.65 percent of total emission sources in 2016, followed by the agriculture, and waste sectors. The country is in the process of formulating its Long-Term Low Greenhouse Gas Emission Development Strategy, which will guide Thailand towards a climate-resilient and low greenhouse gas emissions development and serve as a basis for enhancing its subsequent NDC.
Overcoming barriers in the implementation of climate plans
Thailand has experienced some barriers during the implementation of the NDC and National Adaptation Plan (NAP), and this includes challenges such as monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of adaptation activities, as well as finding climate friendly investment opportunities. To overcome these barriers and to support the transformation of its agriculture and land use sectors to be drivers for successful implementation of its NDC and NAPs, the Royal Thai Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC) and its Land Development Department, and the Office of Agriculture Economics (OEA), and the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) will work together with the SCALA Programme on strengthening performance-based monitoring and assessments of adaptation options in agriculture and climate financing. Thailand will build capacities to design climate-friendly investment opportunities through developing project concepts and addressing investment risks, especially faced by the private sector.
The OAE under the MoAC coordinates the ASPCC 2017-2021 plan’s development and reports throughout the implementation phase. The ASPCC 2017-2021 plan provides a synthesis of knowledge on climate change impacts on agriculture sectors and outlines prioritized response strategies. The SCALA programme is supporting the MoAC in the process of updating Thailand’s ASPCC 2017-2021 plan for the period beyond 2021 through identifying transformational priorities at the sub-national level, particularly those that address gender gaps and social exclusion in farming communities. The ASPCC for 2021 and beyond will inform future NDCs and sector specific reporting under the Enhanced Transparency Framework in the agriculture and land-use sectors. The programme will analyse key business models and production practices for climate-compatible investments options through a subnational-level consultation process.
Moving ahead – 2021 and beyond
Subsequently, several sectoral departments with Thailand have convened to begin the consultative processes, including Rice Department, Land Development Department, Royal Irrigation Department, Fishery Department, Livestock Development, Department of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Extensions, and the Agricultural Land Reform Office and Office of Agricultural Economics. These meetings have provided baseline information on the level of climate vulnerability and risks, the sector climate adaptation and mitigation targets, the existing gaps for the acceleration of NDC and NAP implementation with support from the SCALA programme. Thailand plans to hold an inception workshop for the SCALA programme with all key stakeholders in October 2021.
Over the next five years, Thailand will enhance climate action by building upon existing projects, plans and partnerships. Targeted support in harnessing private sector partnerships will be outlined in a private sector engagement plan for the implementation of agriculture priorities in the NDC. Furthermore, the country plans to involve subnational private sector value chain actors, as well as local communities and community-based organizations in identifying investment opportunities and risk reduction measures to help accelerate their involvement and opportunities in Thailand’s climate action.