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Muanjit Chamsilpa

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Muanjit Chamsilpa is an Environmental Specialist in Baker & McKenzie Limited, Bangkok office.

Thailand is taking the next step towards strengthening the legal framework on air quality control as the Cabinet approved in principle the Draft Management for Clean Air Act (“Clean Air Bill”), which was proposed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MONRE) on 28 November 2023. Thailand’s current legal framework to manage air quality can be seen in many existing laws that regulate the monitoring and treatment of air pollution, and specify air quality standards. There are many governmental agencies acting as regulators for the purpose of air quality control, including the MONRE, the Ministry of Industry, and the Ministry of Public Health.

With increasing awareness of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology as a key enabler for decarbonization, many developments in this area, such as exploration for carbon storage sites, have been reported. However, presently, in Thailand, there is no legislation specifically governing such CCS-related activities. In this context, the Department of Mineral Fuels has been developing a legal framework to accommodate CCS-related activities as can be seen from the recent public hearing of the draft amendment to the Petroleum Act, B.E. 2514 (1971) (“Draft Petroleum Act”), which aims to introduce the concept of “carbon business” as another regulated activity in a similar manner to conventional petroleum concessions.

The Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) is one of the legislative measures under the “Fit for 55” package in the EU’s European Green Deal. The CBAM is a measure designed to complement the EU’s Emissions Trading System, targeting imports of carbon-intensive products, including Thai exporters.

In this final part of the series, we will look at the Draft Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Management Act. The development of a legal framework for the management of waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) has been discussed and studied in Thailand for almost two decades. However, despite existing general environment-related laws, such as the NEQA, the Hazardous Substance Act, B.E. 2535 (1992), and the Factory Act, B.E. 2535 (1992), there is currently no specific Thai law governing WEEE management in a systematic and sustainable way.

Biodiversity is included as Goals 14 and 15 of the Sustainable Development Goals, and its growing significance was emphasized during the special COP on biodiversity, COP15. Many jurisdictions, such as Australia, Japan and the EU, have adopted biodiversity laws to respond to the growing threat of species extinction, habitat loss and ecosystem loss. Thailand has also been working on the same subject, as was included in the most recent Prime Minister’s Statement on National Strategy, and the Ministry of Natural Resource and the Environment has been working on the draft Biodiversity Bill.

The current legal framework for managing packaging and other household waste in Thailand has long been governed by various pieces of legislation, such as the Public Health Act, B.E. 2535 (1992) and the Act on the Maintenance of Cleanliness and Orderliness of the Country, B.E. 2535 (1992). To provide equality and equity for all stakeholders with the ultimate goal of mitigating the environmental impact caused by packaging waste, and at the same time promoting a strong circular economy, the Draft Sustainable Packaging Management Act has been developed to establish systematic and sustainable management of packaging waste.

In recent years, environmental issues have been increasingly prioritized, leading to positive results in the development of national policies in Thailand. Many draft environmental legislations, which were previously stalled, are now regaining momentum as key enablers to drive Thailand towards a more sustainable future.

As a key step in combating the climate change crisis, the Thai government has recently established the Department of Climate Change and Environment within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. This central government agency is dedicated to focusing on the country’s climate change efforts.

Following the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26) in November 2021, almost 200 countries, including Thailand, announced their climate goals and made commitments to tackle climate change. Thailand has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050 and reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2065. To support the government’s policy in this direction, various government agencies and public organizations, such as the Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization, have been actively progressing efforts to realize Thailand’s sustainability goals through various schemes and measures that they are empowered to do under the relevant laws.

Discussion about and around sustainable development is more critical now than ever as governments around the world have announced their commitment to achieve carbon neutrality and net zero greenhouse gas emissions during the 26th United Nations Climate Change’s Conferences of the Parties (COP 26) in Glasgow, and Thailand is no exception. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced Thailand’s commitment to become carbon neutral by 2050 and have net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2065.