Skip to main content

As the deadline for the submission of countries’ climate change action plans to the Paris agreement (NDCs) draws to a close, regional lawmakers urge ASEAN member states to review their climate ambitions.

The first Climate Strike march in Thailand took place in September 2019

The situation is dire. According to the UN, instead of reaching the Paris Agreement goal of keeping the world’s global temperature increases to “well below 2°C”, the world’s climate action plans are on track for a 3.2°C increase in global temperatures above pre-industrial levels by 2100. This is a catastrophic scenario and ASEAN member states are part of the culprits, said ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).

“Southeast Asia is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to climate change and while many governments recognize this imminent threat, experts are disappointed with their less-than-ambitious climate plans. They have one month to rectify this by submitting new enhanced climate action plans to the UN Climate Change Conference. We must act with fierce urgency and ambition to fulfill our respective commitments to the Paris Agreement, or risk failing our people, not just the agreement” says Anthea Ong, Nominated MP of Singapore and member of APHR.

The submission of climate action plans is part of countries’ obligations under the Paris Agreement. The action plans lay out the measures governments will implement to limit the global rise in temperature. Yet, according to the Climate Action Tracker, Indonesia and Singapore’s climate action plans are highly insufficient and Vietnam’s is deemed “critically insufficient” to meet the Paris agreement goal. Another report identifies all of Southeast Asia’s climate action plans as “insufficient”.

ASEAN governments have already submitted action plans, but until February, it is still possible for nations to submit new enhanced ones to the UN Conference on Climate Change. After that deadline, the next opportunity to review the plans will be in 2025, but, according to the UNEP, waiting until then will be too late to tackle climate change.

It is urgent that governments submit new stronger climate action plans by February in order to avoid a catastrophic situation says APHR. APHR regrets that when 73 nations committed last month at the COP25 in Madrid to increase their climate actions none of the ASEAN member states joined them.

Southeast Asia’s high exposure to the adverse consequences of climate change such as increased droughts, changing rainfall patterns, sea-level rise and increased incidence of extreme weather events will result in threats to Southeast Asians’ human rights including the right to food, life, water and others. According to the Asian Development Bank, climate change will also lead to economic losses in the region far greater than the world average. The bank estimates that climate change on its own could reduce the region’s GDP by 11% by the end of the century.

“Our people are already suffering disproportionately from climate change. Just three weeks ago, another typhoon hit the Philippines killing at least 28 people. We know that typhoons will be harsher and more frequent with climate change. Yet, our region’s governments’ response to this is: we won’t ameliorate our plans, even if scientists say they are insufficient. What they are doing is clear: they are abandoning their people.” said Kunthida Rungruengkiat, MP of Thailand, and a member of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights.

Prachatai English's Logo

Prachatai English is an independent, non-profit news outlet committed to covering underreported issues in Thailand, especially about democratization and human rights, despite pressure from the authorities. Your support will ensure that we stay a professional media source and be able to meet the challenges and deliver in-depth reporting.

• Simple steps to support Prachatai English

1. Bank transfer to account “โครงการหนังสือพิมพ์อินเทอร์เน็ต ประชาไท” or “Prachatai Online Newspaper” 091-0-21689-4, Krungthai Bank

2. Or, Transfer money via Paypal, to e-mail address: [email protected], please leave a comment on the transaction as “For Prachatai English”