Thailand’s ambassador to the UAE has said the country would reaffirm commitments on carbon neutrality, cut green house gas emissions and work to limit polluting clouds that are choking its cities.
Sorayut Chasombat said his country and other South-East Asian nations faced recurring challenges of air pollution.
Authorities have blamed forest fires and widespread crop burning for smog and poor air quality particularly in Thailand’s popular northern Chiang Mai. This has kept tourists away and sent thousands of people to hospital for respiratory-related diseases during the dry season typically from November to March.
The government has called for action with laws in place to prevent crop waste burning.
“In the north of Thailand we have dust and pollution and that is something other countries in South-East Asia are also addressing,” Mr Chasombat told The National.
“We face challenges regarding climate change and if we don’t take adequate measures it will affect us because Thailand, by and large, we are still an agricultural country.”
On the critical issues of UN climate goals, Mr Chasombat who took office as envoy this year, said Thailand would renew pledges to adhere to international targets on net zero emissions, drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions and move to solar and renewable energy sources.
“This is something we are working very hard on,” he said.
“We are paying attention to balancing economic growth and preservation to enable the country and our people cope with climate change.”
Net zero refers to not adding to the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Experts have said that apart from action by governments, the public and industry too must play a part by burning less polluting fuel in homes and in factories.
The envoy looked forward to the participation of youth and civil society at Cop28 in November in Dubai to help spread the message.
“To make a change, we have to understand that everyone must be on board,” he said.
"At Cop28, there will not be more legal commitment but it aims to make sure that what we have already negotiated will be implemented in full.”
Thailand and the UAE are also in the process of establishing a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with talks in Bangkok this week.
This follows the launch of the first UAE-Thai Business council in February this year.
Thailand is the second largest economy in South-East Asia and the UAE is Thailand’s biggest trade partner in the Middle East and North Africa region.
An agreement will boost non-oil trade between the two nations that increased 21 per cent in 2022 to $6.1 billion.
“The CEPA is very important to Thailand as we are hoping to increase both trade and investment,” Mr Chasombat said.
The UAE has also signed economic agreements with Indonesia and Cambodia in the South-East Asia region over the past year.
“This is a wholistic approach by the UAE because we are a combined force as a group of Asean countries.
“We are keen on being a good partner and it’s very important for us, Asean and the UAE to work closely together.”