The Opening of COP27. Credit: UN Climate Change

Thailand submits increased GHG emission reduction target and long-term strategies as it joins world community at COP27

Head of the Thai delegation, Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa, stresses the need for developed countries to take a lead in cutting Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions as the UN Climate Change has found that the collective target for the next decade falls far short of what is needed

Mr. Varawut has disclosed Thailand’s stance for the 27th UN Climate Change Conference or COP 27, which is being held in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh and will run until November 18, before the group leaves Thailand for the conference this week.

Mr. Varawut said Thailand will cooperate with other countries in dealing with climate change problems under the Paris Agreement, especially under Article 6, but developed countries should take a lead in cutting GHG emissions following the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC). 

Article 6 was first addressed in the Paris Agreement in 2015, and its rule book was successfully crafted at COP26 in Glasgow last year. It addresses how “cooperative approaches” among parties or countries could be proceeded in order for countries to meet their GHG emission reduction targets. It’s widely seen as a means for carbon-market arrangements to be revived, and Article 6.2 specially involves bilateral cooperation between countries. Thailand is the first to proceed with this 6.2 article with Switzerland, under which at least 500 fuel-engined buses in Bangkok have been replaced with EV buses, and 5,000 more in the city could be all replaced in the next phase of the cooperation.

“We will share this story at the conference,” said Mr. Varawut.

The country’s negotiation framework will also cover other issues in relation to mitigation impacts concerning forests and land use protection under the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, upon which Thailand has signed, adaptation, climate finance,  technology transfer, capacity building, and others.         

The negotiation framework was tabled before the Cabinet to endorse a few weeks ago, and alongside are the new GHG emission reduction target and the long-term strategies, which have freshly been submitted to the UN Climate Change secretariat. Read: Thailand​’s 2nd​ Updated​ NDC / Thailand’s Long-Term Low Greenhouse Gas Emission Development Strategy (Revised Version)

According to the new target, which is addressed in the Thailand 2nd Updated Nationally Determined Contribution report, the country will raise the GHG emission reduction target from 20-25 per cent to 30-40% by 2030. This follows the declaration made by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha in Glasgow last year that the country could do more of cutting GHG emissions if obtaining “support”. Apart from mitigation, the report also addresses matters concerning adaptation and support needs, which include Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) as well as Climate Smart Agriculture.

In the long-term strategies, officially known as Thailand’s Long-Term Low Greenhouse Gas Emission Development Strategy or LT-LEDS (Revised Version),  the country sets its vision to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and a net-zero emission by 2065 as declared by the PM in Glasgow. To achieve these goals, the energy and transport sectors need to move towards renewable energy and carbon reabsorption. Aside from CCS and Bioenergy with CCS, Hydrogen is also stated as being among the mechanisms to help the country achieve the goals.

Credit: UN Climate Change

Sharm el-Sheikh, “the Implementation COP”

As officially opened on Sunday, the COP president made it clear that COP27 will be about ensuring the full implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs and COP27 President Sameh Shoukry said; “We’re gathering this year at a time when global climate action is at a watershed moment. Multilateralism is being challenged by geopolitics, spiralling prices, and growing financial crises, while several countries battered by the pandemic have barely recovered, and severe and depleting climate change-induced disasters are becoming more frequent.

“COP27 creates a unique opportunity in 2022 for the world to unite, to make multilateralism work by restoring trust and coming together at the highest levels to increase our ambition and action in fighting climate change. COP27 must be remembered as the “Implementation COP”_ the one where we restore the grand bargain that is at the centre of the Paris Agreement.”

The sense of urgency to implement the Paris Agreement at COP27 occurs as it’s the second year towards the make-or-break decade of 2030. The conference is also taking place against the backdrop of inadequate ambition to curb greenhouse gas emissions. 

According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, CO2 emissions need to be cut 45% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels to meet the central Paris Agreement goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. This is crucial to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, including more frequent and severe droughts, heatwaves and rainfall.

However, as reported by UN Climate Change, while countries are bending the curve of GHG emissions downward, efforts remain insufficient to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. 

Since COP26 in Glasgow, only 29 out of 194 countries came forward with tightened national plans, UN Climate Change said. According to its report based on the NDCs submitted to it, the combined climate pledges could put the world on track for around 2.5 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century.

Instead of reducing GHG emissions, the current commitments will increase these by 10.6% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. This is just a slight improvement over last year’s assessment, which found countries were on a path to increase emissions by 13.7% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels, UN Climate Change said.

Last year’s analysis showed that projected emissions would continue to increase beyond 2030. This year’s analysis shows that while emissions are no longer increasing after 2030, they are still not demonstrating the rapid downward trend science says is necessary this decade, the UN climate agency pointed out.

“The downward trend in emissions expected by 2030 shows that nations have made some progress this year. But the science is clear and so are our climate goals under the Paris Agreement. We are still nowhere near the scale and pace of emission reductions required to put us on track toward a 1.5 degrees Celsius world,” said Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change Simon Stiell. “To keep this goal alive, national governments need to strengthen their climate action plans now and implement them in the next eight years.”

“At the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow last year, all countries agreed to revisit and strengthen their climate plans,” said Mr. Stiell. “The fact that only 24 new or updated climate plans (as of September 23) were submitted since COP 26 is disappointing. Government decisions and actions must reflect the level of urgency, the gravity of the threats we are facing, and the shortness of the time we have remaining to avoid the devastating consequences of runaway climate change.”

The UN climate agency tried to maintain its positive view by saying most of the Parties that submitted new or updated NDCs have strengthened their commitment to reducing or limiting GHG emissions by 2025 and/or 2030, demonstrating increased ambition in addressing climate change.

The agency also looked at the countries’ long-term plans through their submitted long-term low-emission development strategies, and learn that the countries’ GHG emissions could be roughly 68% per cent lower in 2050 than in 2019, if all the long-term strategies are fully implemented on time.

Current long-term strategies (representing 62 Parties to the Paris Agreement) account for 83% of the world’s GDP, 47% of the global population in 2019, and around 69% of total energy consumption in 2019. This is a strong signal that the world is starting to aim for net-zero emissions, the agency noted.

However, many net-zero targets remain uncertain and are postponed into the future critical action that needs to take place now, the agency further noted. Ambitious climate action before 2030 is urgently needed to achieve the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement, it concluded.

Mr. Stiell called on governments to revisit their climate plans and make them stronger in order to close the gap between where emissions are heading and where science indicates they should be this decade.

“COP27 is the moment where global leaders can regain momentum on climate change, make the necessary pivot from negotiations to implementation and get moving on the massive transformation that must take place throughout all sectors of society to address the climate emergency,” he said.

He urged them to show how they will put the Paris Agreement to work in their home countries through legislation, policies and programs, as well as how they will cooperate and provide support for implementation. He also called on them to make progress at the conference in four priority areas: mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, and finance.

“This is a sobering moment, and we are in a race against time,” said H.E. Shoukry upon the launch of the reports. “Several of those who are expected to do more are far from doing enough, and the consequences of this are affecting lives and livelihoods across the globe. I am conscious that it is and should be a continuum of action until 2030 then 2050, however, these alarming findings merit a transformative response at COP27.”

Also read: Glasgow Climate Pact “a fragile win”: COP26 President

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