Thailand is recognized as highly vulnerable to climate variability and change. Since the mid-20th century, various studies have already reported a temperature increase across Thailand . Limjirakan and Limsakul (2012) reported that over 40 years (1970-2009), maximum, minimum and average temperatures in Thailand have increased by 0.96, 0.92, and 1.04°C, respectively , . However, while this rising trend in temperature could be the result of increased greenhouse gas emissions, it could also be the result of local factors that are not climate-related, such as an urban heat island . The variation of precipitation and the number of rainy days has oscillated over time in Thailand , driven particularly by El Niño Southern Oscillation . In recent years (2015-2021), the rainfall variation has fluctuated, with the lowest rainfall in 40 years in 2019 (1,343.4 mm) since 1979 (1,332.3 mm). The highest annual rainfall in Thailand was recorded in 2017 (2,017 mm) . Additionally, a 2016 study found that while precipitation events have become less frequent across the country, they have intensified . Furthermore, sea levels in the gulf of Thailand have risen approximately 3-5 mm annually, compared to the global average of 0.7 mm per year between 1993- 2008 .
Thailand’s climate is expected to continue to change. By the 2090s, the average temperature is projected to increase by 0.95°C–3.23°C above the 1986–2005 baseline, with the rate of warming dependent on the emissions pathway. Projected temperature increases are strongest in the south, and in daily maximum and minimum temperatures. Future precipitation trends are highly uncertain for Thailand, but some global trends are evident. The intensity of sub-daily extreme rainfall events appears to be increasing with temperature, a finding supported by evidence from different regions of Asia . At the same time, the frequency of flooding, droughts and other natural disasters is expected to increase .
Thailand is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts , due to its exposure to increasing natural hazards, such as heavy rainfall, floods, and droughts, as well as sea level rise impacts to the country’s coasts . According to the Global Climate Risk Index 2021, Thailand was ranked as the ninth most affected country in terms of human impacts and direct economic losses from weather-related loss events during the period 2000-2019 . Floods are by far the greatest natural hazard facing Thailand in terms of economic and human impacts, with Thailand being cited as one of the 10 most flood-affected countries in the world. According to the UNISDR, the average annual loss associated with flooding in Thailand is approximately US$2.6 billion. Further, the devastating floods of 2011 serve as an example of the country’s vulnerability to climate-related disaster. The floods caused 815 deaths, affected 13.6 million people and damaged 20,000 km² of farmland. Economically, the flood amounted to $45 billion in damages and resulted in the most expensive insurance loss recorded in global history from a flood at $15 billion. Climate change is likely to increase the incidence of flooding across the country. For instance, the number of people affected by an extreme river flood could grow by over 2 million by 2035–2044, and coastal flooding could affect a further 2.4 million people by 2070–2100 .
Projections suggest that Thailand’s agriculture sector could be significantly affected by climate change . Already, farmers are subjected to the impacts of flooding and droughts annually, leading to crop losses and low productivity, indebtedness and low household earnings. Variations in the regional weather patterns could have significant impacts on the stability of the agricultural sector due to low yields and compromised activities during critical stages from seeding to harvesting. Changes in temperature and humidity are also likely to increase the prevalence of pests, including mealy bugs destroying cassava, or brown planthoppers (Nilaparvata lugens) often found feasting on rice crops during the rainy seasons . Estimates of the effects of climate change on agriculture production (assuming no adaptation or adoption of new technologies) show that by 2046–2055, rice production could decline by 10 to 13%, sugarcane by 25 to 35% and cassava by 15 to 21% , , . Given that Thailand is a major exporter of rice and cassava, and because agriculture still employs large parts of the population, climate change impacts on the sector are projected to have significant economic consequences at all levels. The economic costs due to loss of farmland value and output alone have been projected to exceed US$ 94 billion under a high-emissions scenario by 2050 due to changes in precipitation and temperature. While the impacts have major spatial variability, with some provincial differences ranging from US$ 0.27 billion to 19.43 billion in losses depending on the scenario, the overall impacts are nevertheless severe, and call for practical adaptation interventions to relieve the pressures that the changes are likely to impose on farmers .
In addition to agriculture, several other key sectors in Thailand are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including water management, food security, health, tourism, natural resource management, and human settlement and security. As such, climate change is one of the key challenges in Thailand affecting communities’ lives and livelihoods, economic growth, and the achievement of sustainable development . In fact, Thailand was ranked among the top 5 countries expected to have the largest decline in GDP due to climate change by 2048 . According to Swiss Re Institute, under a severe scenario, in which temperatures rise by 3.2°C by mid-century with society doing nothing to combat climate change, Thailand could lose up to 45% of its GDP .
Thailand is responsible for less than 1% of global GHG emissions. As outlined in the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory provided in Thailand’s Fourth Biennial Update Report (BUR4), in 2019, total GHG emissions (excluding those from LULUCF) were 372,716.86 GgCO2eq and Net GHG emissions were 280,728.34 GgCO2eq (including those from LULUCF). The largest contributor to GHG emissions in the country in 2019 was the Energy Sector (69.96% of the total GHG emissions), followed by the Agriculture (15.23%), Industrial Processes and Product Use (IPPU) (10.28%), and Waste (4.53%) sectors. In 2019, land use, land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF) contributed to a net removal of 91,988.52 GgCO2eq, accounting for an increase by two folds compared with the year 2000. The net removal estimated for remaining cropland accounted for almost 80% of the overall net removals of the LULUCF sector .
Total direct GHG emissions from the Energy sector in 2019 were estimated to be 260,772.69 GgCO2eq. The majority of which were generated by fuel combustion, consisting of 1A1 Energy industries, accounting for 39.63% of the total GHG emissions from the sector. The share of emissions from Transport, Manufacturing Industries and Construction, and other sectors were 29.50%, 20.38% and 6.47%, respectively. Fugitive Emissions from fuel comprised only 4.03% of total GHG emissions from the Energy sector .
Key policies and governance approach
Thailand has integrated the climate change agenda into its national, sectoral, and municipal policies and plans to address the problem systematically and effectively . Climate change is addressed currently at the highest policy level under the 20-Year National Strategy (2018-2037) , which aims to promote sustainable climate-friendly based growth , . Aligning with the 20-Year National Strategy, Thailand has also developed the Climate Change Master Plan (2015-2050), which aims for Thailand to become resilient to the impacts of climate change and to achieve low carbon growth through sustainable development . The Plan reflects on climate change mitigation, adaptation, capacity building and cross-cutting issues .
Additionally, the Government of Thailand ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016 and submitted its 2nd updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in November 2022. Through its 2nd updated NDC, Thailand intends to reduce its GHG emissions by 30% from the projected business-as-usual (BAU) level by 2030. This level of contribution could increase up to 40%, subject to adequate and enhanced access to technology development and transfer, financial resources and capacity building support .
In accordance with the Paris Agreement, the country has also submitted its revised Long-term Low Greenhouse Gas Emission Development Strategy (LT-LEDS). Thailand has set long-term targets and guidelines for GHG reduction toward carbon neutrality by 2050 and net-zero emission in 2065 by identifying key measures in the sectors of energy, transport, IPPU, waste, agriculture, and LULUCF, for relevant agencies and sectors to use as operational guidelines .
Concerning mitigation, ambitious energy targets have been put forward in the Power Development Plan (PDP), the Alternative Energy Development Plan (AEDP) and the Energy Efficiency Plan (EEP). Additionally, the Environmentally Sustainable Transport System Plan promotes a road-to-rail modal shift for both freight and passenger transport, and a vehicle tax scheme based on CO2 emission was introduced in 2016 to promote low carbon vehicles .
In addition to mitigation efforts, Thailand has treated adaptation as equally important. Thailand has developed its first National Adaptation Plan to provide a framework towards a climate-resilient society with the focus on water management, agriculture and food security, tourism, health, natural resource management, and human settlement and security. The NAP aims to minimize risks and vulnerability as well as to improve resilience of the country in accordance with a sustainable development pathway. Further, Thailand has also integrated climate change adaptation into key sectoral policies and plans such as the draft Action Plan for Climate Change in Agriculture (2023 – 2027), the Climate Change Adaptation Plan on Public Health (2018 – 2030), the 20-year Water Resource Management Master Plan, and Spatial Plans .
In terms of institutional arrangement for climate change management, Thailand has established a National Committee on Climate Change Policy (NCCC) to oversee climate policy development and implementation. The NCCC is composed of seven subcommittees .
Successes and remaining challenges
Thailand’s commitment to climate policy has grown in recent years, however, this has not yet been matched with sufficient implementation . Several of the proposed measures and actions in Thailand’s ambitious plans are subject to very high investment and operating costs, particularly costs of technologies and infrastructures, which have become an important barrier to successful implementation of the country’s plans. Furthermore, though Thailand has established the inter-ministerial committees to oversee climate policy development and implementation, there are still gaps in individual and institutional capacities in all relevant agencies, including government, private sector, and general public. Additional challenges in Thailand, as identified during the preparation of the NDC and NAP, include uncertainties of climate change and its impacts, lack of data and research on coping capacities and vulnerabilities in sectors and local areas, and a lack of tools and methods to support implementation .
Concerning the energy sector, key barriers include a limitation of grid connection due to inadequate capacity of transmission lines, lack of support by financial institutions for energy efficiency and renewable energy investments, lack of domestic technological and technical resources, and negative public perception particularly against waste-to-energy and biomass power plants. Several measures require a high level of technical capacity and effective coordination across different sectoral agencies, whereas such technical capacity and effective coordination in a developing country like Thailand is currently lacking. For renewable energy development in particular, the International Energy Agency cited some of the above-mentioned barriers as common barriers for renewable energy deployment in developing countries. Domestically, Thailand has launched several support mechanisms such as feed-in tariffs, tax incentives and access to investment grants and venture capital to promote renewable energy. However, to achieve ambitious and more rapid renewable energy deployment, incentives have to be created for technology developers to cooperate and share technology knowledge to enable technology transfer on a larger scale. International financial support mechanisms such as technical assistance and technology transfer funds for purchasing intellectual property rights for a free distribution of clean energy technologies would be very valuable to accelerate diffusion of renewable energy technologies for developing countries .
Considering these remaining constraints and gaps, Thailand will need support in terms of finance, technical expertise, technology transfer, and capacity building to ensure the achievement of its NDC and the LT-LEDS. For mitigation, Thailand needs support for its transition towards renewable energy sources focusing on renewable energy technologies (such as solar and wind), enhancing the potential use of Carbon Capture Storage (CCS) & Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) technologies, and developing other technologies to achieve GHG emission reduction and a net-zero emission target. For adaptation, support is needed for developing a data map showing areas at risk of climate change impacts and accessing viable adaptive technology. To enhance the enabling environment, Thailand requires support to develop and strengthen mechanisms, instruments, and policy implementation. For instance, financial instruments and incentives need to be strengthened to engage the private sector in green investment and capacity building is needed for all stakeholders to integrate climate actions into their respective practice and plans .
Initiatives and Development Plans
Thailand has integrated disaster prevention and disaster risk reduction into all sectors according to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030). The National Disaster Risk Management Plan serves as an integrated and people-centered national framework and includes: (1) local capacity building, the community-based disaster risk management model, including community training on risk evaluation and basic coping mechanisms; (2) capacity building for the public sector and partners such as drills for disaster risk management and national crisis management; and (3) provincial disaster risk management plans, provincial supporting emergency plans, and local government’s disaster risk management plans .
To increase knowledge and awareness on climate change, Thailand has also integrated climate change into the national core curriculum and into indicators and standards for three subjects: (1) mathematics, science, and geology; (2) social studies, religions, and culture; and (3) physical and health education. In addition, the Department of Environmental Quality Promotion has published the Environmental Studies Activity Manual. This manual contains climate change knowledge for teachers and for the interested public, and has been distributed to related organisations and schools in the network .
In 2022, public-private partnerships have enabled further progress in collaboration between the government, cement industry and relevant agencies to encourage all sectors to use hydraulic cement in all types of construction projects. As a result of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in 2020, the cement sector was able to achieve its greenhouse gas reduction targets earlier than expected. The cement industry also expressed its intention of a more ambitious target to be achieved by 2023 that will support the government's policy on carbon neutrality and net zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 and 2065, respectively .
- Thailand will need support in terms of finance, technical expertise, technology transfer, and capacity building to ensure the achievement of its NDC and the LT-LEDS .
- Support is needed to develop and transfer innovative and practical technologies, particularly the development of infrastructure and climate-related technology such as EV infrastructure, and GHG reduction technology .
- Support is needed for Thailand’s transition towards renewable energy sources focusing on renewable energy technologies (such as solar and wind), enhancing the potential use of Carbon Capture Storage (CCS) & Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) technologies, and developing other technologies to achieve GHG emission reduction and a net-zero emission target .
- International financial support mechanisms such as technical assistance and technology transfer funds for purchasing intellectual property rights for a free distribution of clean energy technologies would be very valuable to accelerate diffusion of renewable energy technologies .
- Non-financial assistance is needed from international specialists, which can take the form of sharing information and expertise, the transmission of working knowledge, and consulting services and may also involve the transfer of technical data and know-how. This may include, but not be limited to, support in policy development and implementation, and development of mechanisms and instruments, climate information, and Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) systems .
- Support is also needed for developing a data map showing areas at risk of climate change impacts and for accessing viable adaptive technology .
- Build capacity in the public and private sectors to integrate climate actions into their respective plans or enterprises. Support is needed for developing and strengthening the skills, abilities, processes, and resources of organizations and stakeholders for planning and taking climate actions .
- Raise awareness of climate change, as well as Thailand’s LT-LEDS and NDC, among relevant stakeholders and the public .
- Financial instruments, incentives, mechanisms, and approaches are needed to engage the private sector in the shift to green investment .
- Share knowledge and best practices on legal frameworks and modalities to support Thailand’s LT-LEDS and NDC implementation .
 Limjirakan, S. and Limsakul, A., (2012). Observed trends in surface air temperatures and their extremes in Thailand from 1970 to 2009. Journal of the Meteorological Society of Japan. Ser. II, 90(5), pp.647-662.
 Pipitpukdee, Siwabhorn, Witsanu Attavanich, and Somskaow Bejranonda (2020). "Climate Change Impacts on Sugarcane Production in Thailand" Atmosphere 11, no. 4: 408. https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11040408.
 Pipitpukdee, Siwabhorn, Witsanu Attavanich, and Somskaow Bejranonda (2020). "Impact of Climate Change on Land Use, Yield and Production of Cassava in Thailand" Agriculture 10, no. 9: 402. https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10090402.
 Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, The Kingdom of Thailand (2020). Thailand’s Updated Nationally Determined Contribution.
 Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, The Kingdom of Thailand (2022). Thailand’s 2nd Updated Nationally Determined Contribution.
 Climate Action Tracker (2023). Thailand. [Online]. Available: https://climateactiontracker.org/countries/thailand/.
 Department of International Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand (2021). Thailand’s Voluntary National Review on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 2021.