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Thailand is severely vulnerable to climate change and its vulnerability is set to increase between 2010 and 2030 (DARA; Climate Vulnerability Monitor, 2012). It is ranked 89th on the Human Development Index (UNDP; Human Development Index, 2014). Thailand’s CO2 emissions are 4.4 tonnes per capita, while the global average is 4.9 tonnes per capita (World Bank; World Development Indicators: Energy dependency, efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions, 2010).
Thailand is the world’s largest producer of rice, often called the ‘rice bowl of Asia’. Other key sectors of the economy are tourism (including coastal tourism) and trade. All three are threatened by climate change. Thailand’s long coastlines make it particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Higher temperatures, more frequent and extreme storms and floods, and sea level rise could have devastating environmental, economic and cultural consequences. A one degree rise in temperature could destroy rice crops that are central to the economy, while a few centimetres rise in sea level could submerge the capital city Bangkok and devastate coastal tourism.
The major source of greenhouse gas emissions in Thailand is the energy sector, which accounts for over half the national total. The burning of fossil fuels in power plants and automobiles, and energy use in industry, are the main culprits. Agriculture is the other main source of GHG emissions in the country.
Thailand ratified the UNFCCC in December 1994 and the Kyoto Protocol in August 2002. The Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Plan (ON REP) has been designated as the national focal point on climate change under the UNFCCC. Thailand has begun implementing strategies to adapt to climate change, to mitigate some of the effects that are already felt across sectors, and to protect farmland, coasts and cities. CDKN is supporting a number of projects in Thailand under the SUMERNET research programme. These include a project communicating water-related climate change risks to improve local adaptation in the Mekong Region, and a second for integrated approaches to carbon measurement and monitoring.