At the opening ceremony of the 2nd Thailand Climate Action Conference, Greenpeace Thailand activists launched a series of protests, holding a banner with a message ‘Our forest ≠ Carbon credit, Stop Greenwashing’, and projecting a laser message that read ‘Stop forest carbon offset, Real-Zero Not Net-Zero’ directed at the country’s new prime minister Srettha Thavisin and the Thai government to decouple its climate policy from false solutions like carbon offsetting scheme.
Greenpeace activists holding a banner saying "Our forest ≠ Carbon credit, Stop Greenwashing" during the TCAC. (Photo from Greenpeace Thailand)
Greenpeace Thailand also called on the Thai government to make a clear stance on its climate policy before the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) to be held in Dubai, UAE at the end of this year. While Thailand ranks 9th when it comes to climate vulnerability and risks , the policy has been hung in balance as it prioritised most resources on mitigation, at the same time leaving climate change adaptation, and in particular loss and damage (from climate disasters) in the dark. Moreover, Thailand climate policy keeps the door wide open for corporate greenwashing, particularly forest carbon offset projects.
Tara Buakamsri, Country Director of Greenpeace Thailand said:
“Thailand Climate Action Conference is in fact a clear example of how the country's climate policy is hijacked by climate polluters. Although responsible government agencies said that the conference will be a platform to formulate a negotiation stance toward COP 28 that includes green finance, carbon sinks, carbon neutrality and net zero target, it contradicts with the reality on the ground with land and forest grabbing, repatriation and allocation of land and forests for corporations to trade in carbon markets which allow the fossil fuel industry- one of the biggest polluters- to continue their business-as-usual plans by emitting the same amount of greenhouse gas. Moreover, it will incentivize the commodification of natural resources and enable powerful corporations and governments to seize the land of vulnerable communities, violate human rights and destroy the ecosystem.”
The 2nd Thailand Climate Action Conference (TCAC), held at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, is organised by the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment and sponsored by Thailand Carbon Neutral Network, which includes big fossil fuel companies.
Thailand’s Net Zero plan  estimates that by 2065, greenhouse gas emission from the energy sector [electricity generation and transportation], agricultural sector, manufacturing industries, and waste sector will be 120 million tonnes. Land use, land use change, and the forestry sector are projected to have the capacity to absorb 120 million tonnes in order to achieve the country’s net-zero emission.
Currently, Thailand has 102.04 million rais [around 16.3 hectare] and 32.65 million rais [around 5.2 hectare] of natural forests and commercial forests, respectively. These existing forests can only absorb 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the CO2 amount released in 2021. To achieve the net-zero emission goal by 2065, Thailand will need to plant 28 million rais of natural forests and commercial forests to absorb those 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emission.
“Forest carbon offsets are definitely far from being a climate solution. It will only give rich countries and big-polluting companies a free pass to be not held accountable for their carbon emissions. It also paves the way for them to gain profit from land grabbing and forests that cared for by local communities, without the need to be responsible for the loss and damage from climate impacts caused by the fossil fuel industry,” said Buakamsri.
Scientific data has shown that carbon offsets cannot help us to achieve the Paris Agreement which limits temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-existing levels . Carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere stays long in the environment, sometimes lasting more than a century. Newly-planted trees will take decades to absorb those carbon . There are also risks that these efforts will be wiped out by plant alien species, droughts, wildfires, and deforestation.
Prior to the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) negotiations, Greenpeace Thailand calls on the Thai government to:
- Form a parliamentary committee on “Climate Justice” with representatives from ethnic groups, local communities, women, youth, labour groups, and LGBTQ+ groups and issue a ‘Climate Emergency Declaration’ which is a vital sign for policymakers, the private sector, the public, and all stakeholders to understand the scale of the climate crisis. This parliamentary committee will play a role in monitoring the implementation of the country's climate policy, proposing various strategies for each sector to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to lessen the impact of natural disasters and building the resilience of communities and society as a whole.
- Respect the local communities and their knowledge in coping with the climate crisis and restoring a sustainable and just economy to ensure that the country’s social and economic policies that aim at restoring climate impacts will respect and protect human’s rights.
- Have a strong commitment and establish a loss and damage fund for vulnerable countries and communities who suffer from climate change impacts in the past, at present and in the future.
- Be aware that achieving Paris Agreement’s greenhouse gas emission reduction target will need a systemic change and strategies that support a real-zero policy, one that will eliminate carbon emission by phasing out coal and shifting Thailand’s energy plan away from fossil fuels, changing food system towards ecological agriculture, reducing meat production, and cancelling new industrial projects which will pollute the environment.
- Prevent the monopolisation of multinational corporations from patenting agricultural and animal species. Not being able to protect the patent for seeds will undermine the climate adaptation capacity of local farmers, local communities and indigenous groups.
- Support people and community’s rights in conserving marine ecosystems, wetlands, and coastal ecosystems which are supportive economies, providing food security for communities and countries.
- Collaborate with global communities on climate actions by providing financial support, technology and knowledge exchange, moving away from carbon offset schemes that provide loopholes for big-polluting industries to green wash their images while profiting from land grabbing, or the country’s common resources without being accountable for climate impacts caused by their own actions.
 Thailand Carbon Neutral Network is founded by Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization (Public Organization). One of its missions is to support and verify carbon credit trading in the country. The council board of the network includes PTT Public Company Limited, PTT Global Chemical PLC, DOW Thailand Group, Bangchak Corporation Public Company Limited, Charoen Pokphand Group Co., Ltd., Siam Cement Group, and Mitrphol Group, etc.
 Babiker, M., et al. 2022. Chapter 12: Cross-sectoral perspectives. In IPCC, 2022: Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [P.R. Shukla, et al. (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK and New York, NY, USA. doi: 10.1017/9781009157926.005. Page 1262.