Thailand's Second National Communication - March 2011

Introduction

The creation of a National Communication offers countries the opportunity to contribute with technically sound studies and information that can be used for designing mitigation and adaptation measures, and project proposals that can and will help increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change. Activities generally include: V&A assessments, Greenhouse Gas Inventory preparation, Mitigation Analysis or Education, and awareness raising activities. The ultimate goal is the integration of climate change considerations into relevant social, economic and environmental policies and actions.

The agricultural sector in Thailand is most vulnerable to climate change impact, since most farmers are small landholders in rainfed areas. The shift from annual field crops to permanent trees in recent years further limits the flexibility of changing the cropping system, and hence creates more vulnerability. Research and development in this area has so far not been able to sufficiently address uncertainty issues. Policy development is mostly general, calling for increasing the management capacity of farmers under high-risk situations and for enhancing the climate and early warning systems. 

Natural disasters, especially droughts and floods, have become increasingly common in Thailand. Global warming is expected to aggravate these problems. Statistics show increasing damage due to droughts and floods in general, fluctuating from a few million to billions of Baht. Thailand has introduced climate factors into disaster management and further research and development in this area are urgently needed.

Project Details

The UNFCCC has taken several major decisions related to impact, vulnerability, and adaptation. For instance, the Marakesh Accord in COP7 in 2001 decided to develop databases to enhance technology capacity, especially on NAPA, and to establish the Special Climate Change Fund. In COP10 in 2004, the Buenos Aires Programme of Work on Adaptation and Response Measures was agreed upon to accelerate implementation of the COP7 decision, and to develop the Nairobi Work Program (NWP) for 2005-2010. However, implementation of the decisions had been slow.

Unlike mitigation, the benefits from implementing vulnerability and adaptation measures are area- specific. The same is true for research and development on vulnerability and adaptation. Hence, international support has been limited and has been primarily channeled to least-developed countries that are the most vulnerable to climate change impact. Most of the support that Thailand has received is for capacity development through training workshops/seminars and enabling activities to prepare the national communication.

Addressing impact, vulnerability, and adaptation to climate change is a priority for Thailand, as reflected in the national strategy to address climate change. The sectors emphasized are agriculture, water resources, health, and marine and coastal resources.

Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change

Research studies on the impact of climate change in Thailand have been conducted for the past 20 years. The development is comparable to other countries in the Asian region. The main limitation encountered till now has been the high uncertainties of climate scenarios. Since 2000, Thailand has supported more than 15 climate scenario-related projects, mostly to enhance technical and scientific knowledge of climate change and its impacts, especially concerning uncertainty issues. Only a few projects covered the system’s vulnerability to climate change. Thailand’s national climate change strategy continues to give importance to technical knowledge, particularly on linkages between impacts and vulnerability of major sectors.

Linkages between impact and vulnerability are required in order to develop additional adaptation options to cope with climate change. As with other countries, in Thailand scientific uncertainties hinder the analysis of adaptation options and their integration into national development planning. Efforts are continuing to enhance research and development in this area.

Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Variability and Extreme Event

Research in vulnerability and adaptation to climate variability and extreme event emphasizes historical and local experiences of climate-related disastrous events, such as droughts, floods, storms, and so on. These disasters have become more frequent and increasingly severe. The approach is used in NAPA of the UNFCCC process.

Thailand combined climate scenarios and the NAPA approach for the Chee Moon watershed in northeast Thailand. A similar approach was applied in selected communities in the north and northeast regions, with a view to enhancing the risk management capacity of local communities. Basic adaptation approaches, for example, conservation of crop varieties or adjustment of cropping systems, were recommended. This area of study needs further development.

An action research with SCCF support is the integration of climate change impact with disaster mitigation to strengthen the resilience of higher-risk coastal communities. Through action research, local communities will develop climate change-related disaster action plans and mainstream into provincial-level and national-level development planning process. This pilot project will start in 2010.

Impact of Sea Level Rise

The sea level estimated by IPCC is the global mean sea level which may not be the same as that of the regional or national sea, such as the Gulf of Thailand. Most studies on sea level rise emphasize coastal inundation and sea water intrusion.

Studies on sea level rise in Thailand are still limited. A case study in Kho Tao applied the consultation approach to assess potential adaptation to climate change and sea level rise at the community level. Preliminary results suggest a need to carefully plan the utilization of coastal areas, especially risk-prone ones. Green development of the island should be emphasized.

Linking to Policies

The major bottlenecks in policy formulation to address climate change vulnerability and adaptation are the reliability and validity of research results. Uncertainties of climate scenarios pose a major constraint to develop impact scenarios. The long time period covered and local characteristics are also key factors in developing policies. Research and development to address the above constraints and problems are of great importance.

Increasing evidence of climate change impacts and their consequences in recent years suggests the need for action. Innovative approaches to assess vulnerability and adaptation, in the short- and long-term, are also important. International cooperation in this area can enhance research capacities in Thailand. Thailand’s national strategy to address climate change has given priority to this area as well.

Climate Change Impact and Thailand

So far, research has provided a broad picture of the effects of global warming in Thailand. Rainfall across all the regions in the country has a potential to increase by about 10-20%. The rainy season will not change much, although the weather will tend to be warmer due to an increase in maximum and minimum temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius. It is noted that the extent of the effects of climate change can vary from area to area, such as between the east and west coasts in southern Thailand.

The agricultural sector in Thailand is most vulnerable to climate change impact, since most farmers are small landholders in rainfed areas. The shift from annual field crops to permanent trees in recent years further limits the flexibility of changing the cropping system, and hence creates more vulnerability. Research and development in this area has so far not been able to sufficiently address uncertainty issues. Policy development is mostly general, calling for increasing the management capacity of farmers under high-risk situations and for enhancing the climate and early warning systems.

Studies on climate change effects on the reservoirs of Bhumibhol and Sirikit dams, the two largest dams in Thailand, found that by the middle of this century, the Bhumibhol dam could be affected by lower surface water run-off. On the other hand, surface water run-off into the two reservoirs will tend to increase substantially in the latter half of the century.

Similarly, research on sea level rise in marine and coastal areas in the southern region of Thailand indicates marginal change in sea level in general. However, a study at the provincial level (that is, Krabi province) suggests a potential rise in sea level. These variations require more refined research and development.

A study of the health effects of climate change was carried in the preparation of the initial national communication (INC). There has not been any progress since then. The national strategy for climate change and action plans for environmental health have emphasized research in this area in the next few years.

Potential Impacts of Climate Variability and Extreme Event

Natural disasters, especially droughts and floods, have become increasingly common in Thailand. Global warming is expected to aggravate these problems. Statistics show increasing damage due to droughts and floods in general, fluctuating from a few million to billions of Baht. Thailand has introduced climate factors into disaster management and further research and development in this area are urgently needed.

Climate-Related Hazards Addressed: 
Level of Intervention: 
Primary Beneficiaries: 
Through improved identification of national circumstances, government agencies and other actors will increase their abilities to insulate at risk urban and rural populations from the adverse effects of climate change.
Implementing Agencies & Partnering Organizations: 
Thailand Department of Disaster Prevention & Mitigation (DDPM)
Thailand Ministry of Interior
Government of Thailand
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Project Status: 
Completed
Location: 
Urban
Funding Source: 
Financing Amount: 
420,000
Co-Financing Total: 
410,000

Key Results and Outputs

  • Sustainable development and the integration of climate change concerns into medium- and long-term planning
  • Inventories of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases
  • Measures contributing to addressing climate change
  • Research and systematic observation
  • Climate change impacts, adaptation measures and response strategies
  • Education, training and public awareness

Potential Adaptation Measures:

Agriculture and Food Security

  • Educational & outreach activities to change management practices to those suited to climate change
  • Switch to different cultivars
  • Develop new crops

Water Resources

  • Improve or develop water management
  • Alter system operating rules, e.g. pricing policies, legislation

Coastal Zones and Marine Ecosystems

  • Develop Integrated Coastal Zone Management
  • Develop planning/new investment requirements

Reports and Publications

Monitoring and Evaluation

In 1992, countries joined an international treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to cooperatively consider what they could do to limit average global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, and to cope with whatever impacts were, by then, inevitable.

Parties to the Convention must submit national reports on implementation of the Convention to the Conference of the Parties (COP). The required contents of national communications and the timetable for their submission are different for Annex I and non-Annex I Parties. This is in accordance with the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" enshrined in the Convention.

The core elements of the national communications for both Annex I and non-Annex I Parties are information on emissions and removals of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and details of the activities a Party has undertaken to implement the Convention. National communications usually contain information on national circumstances, vulnerability assessment, financial resources and transfer of technology, and education, training and public awareness.

Since 1994, governments have invested significant time and resources in the preparation, collection and validation of data on GHG emissions, and the COP has made determined efforts to improve the quality and consistency of the data, which are ensured by established guidelines for reporting. Non-Annex I Parties receive financial and technical assistance in preparing their national communications, facilitated by the UNFCCC secretariat.

Contacts

UNDP
Yamil Bonduki
Coordinator, National Communications Support Programme (NCSP)
Government of Thailand
Vute Wangwacharakul
Project Affiliate
Government of Thailand
Dr. Vute Wangwacharakul
Project Affiliate