NOTE: This assessment is based on our September 2021 assessment with updates to the targets, net zero and Glasgow sectoral pledge sections (under policies and action), which are also reflected in the summary. Emissions pathways have also been revised due to latest historical emissions data and GDP forecasts. No policy updates were quantified in this revision.
Thailand’s overall climate performance has been historically weak despite some good intentions and expected forthcoming positive developments. One positive update is that Thailand raised its ambition with its Second NDC and revised Long-term Low Greenhouse Gas Emission Development Strategy (LT-LEDS) in November 2022, which results in strengthened targets. While the updated NDC is an improvement, it does not yet reflect a fair share contribution and is still far from being 1.5°C compatible.
Thailand is not projected to reach its new targets under current policies, but could reach its unconditional target under planned policies. Prior to COP26 in 2021, Thailand submitted a “carbon neutrality” by 2065 target. Thailand’s Second NDC and revised LT-LEDS now references a revised and accelerated target of “carbon neutrality” by 2050 and net zero GHGs by 2065.
Thailand’s current policies projections are unable to achieve its climate commitments and signal a need to accelerate mitigation efforts, which could begin with the rollout of its planned policies. Thailand’s last shift in power sector planning, from a dependency on coal to fossil gas over the next two decades, lowers the overall emission pathways in its planned policies but nevertheless exacerbates fossil fuel (gas) lock-in and delays meaningful decarbonisation efforts. In 2022, Thailand has been focused on securing fossil supply and doubling down on gas as the energy fuel for the future, having planned a build-out of new LNG import capacity, approved a new 1,400 MW gas-fired power plant, and secured gas fields in Myanmar. The potential for renewable energy remains high and largely untapped, with deployment stagnating since pre-COVID pandemic.
However, Thailand has shown a recent intent to get on track: the government is in the process of drafting a range of important climate-relevant documents, including its Climate Change Act and National Energy Plan (all subsumed energy documents due to be updated). In November 2022, Thailand revised its Long-Term Low Greenhouse Gas Emissions Development Strategy (LT-LEDS), first submitted in September 2021. These policies will strengthen the country’s climate governance, include power sector targets with greater ambition, and also include more details on the implementation roadmap towards achieving long-term carbon neutrality and net-zero targets. Finalisation of the National Energy Plan in 2023, would increase Thailand’s renewable share targets and lower emission pathways, but will remain off of a 1.5°C compatible pathway.
Until the next wave of Thailand’s climate strategies and its accompanying mitigation policies are implemented and strengthened, the CAT rates Thailand’s unconditional climate target and policies as “Critically Insufficient”.
The CAT rates Thailand’s overall rating as “Critically insufficient”, indicating that Thailand’s current climate policies and commitments reflect minimal action and are not at all consistent with the Paris Agreement.
Under Thailand’s current policies and unconditional NDC target, emissions will continue to rise and are consistent with more than 4°C warming. Thailand’s conditional target shows greater ambition, but is not yet compatible with 2°C or 1.5°C.
For Thailand to improve its rating, it needs to establish the policies needed to curb its expected growth in emissions and plan for the long term towards deep decarbonisation. As a first step, it needs to not only solidify its energy and power sector policy plans but to revise and strengthen them to move away from decades of envisaged fossil fuel dependence. These are currently being revised in alignment with the adoption of Thailand’s new National Energy Plan due in 2023. Adoption of these plans and their embedded policy targets will lower the country’s projected emission pathway and improve its policies rating. Thailand has revised its Long-Term Low Greenhouse Gas Emissions Development Strategy after the submission of its Second NDC.
Thailand has announced several major policies aiming at increasing climate ambition and sustainable development in recent years but is off track in achieving its climate targets and shows little indication of implementation progress towards Paris-compatibility. We rate Thailand’s policies and action as “Critically insufficient” when compared to its fair share.
Thailand has plans to expand renewable energy generation, reduce energy intensity of energy sub-sectors, move towards 100% EV sales starting in 2035, and continue expansion of carbon sinks in the forestry sector. The government has also announced its preparation of a Climate Change Act, the drafting of the National Energy Plan, which is expected to provide a low-carbon roadmap towards 2050, and a possible revision of its 20-year National Strategy and National Economic and Social Development Plan to reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. These documents will strengthen climate governance and enhance renewable share targets, but would not be ambitious enough for 1.5°-compatibility.
Thailand’s current and planned policies fall significantly short of any criteria for 1.5°C-compatibility, and result in an increase in domestic emissions towards 2030. Thailand’s recent shift in power sector planning from a dependency on coal to fossil gas over the next two decades lowers overall emission pathways but nevertheless exacerbates fossil fuel (gas) lock-in, and delays meaningful decarbonisation efforts. Institutional and system planning barriers for renewables remain high, leading to projections of slow growth in clean energy development.
We rate Thailand’s policies and action as “Critically insufficient” when compared to its fair share. The “Critically insufficient” rating indicates that Thailand’s policies and action in 2030 reflect minimal to no action and are not at all consistent with the 1.5°C temperature limit.
Thailand’s emissions rise in both its current and planned policy projections and is significantly off track when compared to its fair share trajectory. If all countries were to follow Thailand’s approach, warming would exceed 4°C. The government needs to implement more stringent policies, for which it will also need additional support.
We rate Thailand’s 2030 conditional targets as “Insufficient”. The “Insufficient” rating indicates that Thailand’s conditional target in 2030 is not yet consistent with the 1.5°C temperature limit. For Thailand’s target to be in line with 1.5 °C, its conditional NDC commitment would need to be a 65% reduction below the same BAU.
We rate Thailand’s unconditional NDC target “Critically insufficient” when compared to its fair share. Thailand’s unconditional targets remain based on an inflated BAU that is significantly higher than its current and planned policy projections, even before the onset of COVID-19 or the global energy crisis. Economic trends post-pandemic now lend even more weight to the possibility that the BAU is unrealistic and should be revised downward, with a corresponding strengthening of its emissions reduction targets. If all countries were to follow Thailand’s current approach, warming would exceed 4°C. For Thailand’s unconditional target to be in line with 1.5 °C, its NDC commitment would need to be an unconditional 57% reduction below the same BAU.
Thailand recorded a large LULUCF sink in its latest inventory equivalent to around 20% of its emissions. Thailand should work toward maintaining this sink. For more information about forestry activities in Thailand, please see the policies & action section.
We rate Thailand’s net zero target as Average. In Thailand’s Second NDC, it references its continuing efforts “to meet the long-term goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 and net-zero greenhouse gas emission by 2065”. This supersedes Thailand’s previous ‘carbon neutrality’ target for 2065 target submitted to the UNFCCC in October 2021. Thailand officially submitted these revised targets as part of its new long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategy (LT-LEDS) on 7 November 2022.