Taking steps towards climate action


In response to escalating global concerns over climate change, Thailand has taken a stride by drafting its Climate Change Act that, if enacted, will be the country’s first climate change law.

In mid March, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment announced that it would submit the draft law to the cabinet for approval in June. If the cabinet does not object, it will be sent to parliament for reading.

However, critics have raised doubts about whether this draft will help the country reduce emissions and cope with climate change in a sustainable manner. Some wonder whether it is just a paper tiger. 

But the draft reaffirms Thailand’s commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and net-zero Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 2065.

At COP28 — the latest global summit last December — Environment Minister Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwan said the country’s emissions are expected to peak in 2025 before gradually declining, as Thailand aims to increase renewable energy to 68% by 2040 and 74% by 2050.

The proposal was written in 2021 and got a green light from the former Prayut Chan-o-cha cabinet. It was kept in drawers for three years before the Department of Climate Change and Environment (DCCE) put it up for public hearing between February and April 2024. The draft bill is expected to be read and vetted by the cabinet and parliament by mid-year.


The draft law empowers  the National Climate Change Committee (NCCC) to develop a roadmap called comprehensive Climate Change Master Plan (CCMP) –a  blueprint of the country’s  climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. 

This draft law required responsible public and government  agencies to establish climate mitigation and adaptation objectives that align with the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and the Long-term Low Greenhouse Gas Emission Development Strategy (LT-LEDS).

The draft also stipulates strong penalties –climate offenders are liable for paying hefty fines as high as five million baht –minimal fine is already 10,000 baht. 


It is noteworthy that this legal proposal gives weight to carbon trading. Roughly one-third of this draft legislation, approximately 62 out of 180 clauses are for the purpose of the carbon market. The rest or two third are legal details such as legal terms and details of organizational structures and scope of authorities. 

Its main objective is to promote the voluntary carbon market through existing state agencies ie. the Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization (TGO) and the industrial sector as well as emission trading with  countries with the European Union.

This proposal promotes emission reporting and monitoring. For instance, Section 6 of the climate change draft bill, required targeted businesses to report their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the amount of removed emissions to the DCCE under the ministry of natural resources and environment. Targeted businesses in this draft law are termed as CBO –ie cement and petrochemicals, possibly.  

The draft provides the basic structure of the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) which is a market-based carbon pricing tool for emission trading among CBO businesses. For example, Section 8 legally enables businesses to receive, pay and manage transactions from emission trading, and how these businesses can buy or sell surplus emission. 

This proposal also stipulates the pilot ‘voluntary’ emission trading scheme that will take place in Thailand during 2029-2030.

In Section 10, the draft bill establishes definitions of carbon credits and licensing requirements for carbon credit businesses, including exchanges and certification providers, as stipulated in the up-coming sub-regulation. Additionally, registered carbon credits which have been certified by the TGO can be converted into allowances under the ETS, provided they meet the NCCC’s criteria. 

Apart from emission trading, this legal draft also introduces a carbon tax. The proposed emission levy will be applicable to industrial operators, manufacturers, and importers only. Additionally, it establishes the Climate Change Fund (CCF) that will help fund climate change initiatives and support businesses in emission reduction efforts that align with national climate change policy and target. 


As most of the draft content is on carbon market, carbon tax and funding mechanism, it would not be a surprise that critics and conservationists thought this draft law pro-business. 

Critics also raised concern that the draft has loopholes for prosecution with climate offenders. While Section 6 requires related bodies and businesses to record carbon emission databases in Section 6; article 49 in the same draft ironically prevents public disclosure of emission data if it harms and causes damage to individuals. Such conflict codes will provide an escape clause for polluters to evade public scrutiny and hide polluting evidence. 

Climate change adaptation plans and objectives are not clear too. While Articles 134-141 of the draft law mention adaptation plans for climate change, these adaptation plans –which indeed are related to community and society to copy and adjust with climate change problems, are broadly termed. The draft leaves the duty of the NCCC to define the nature of the climate adaptation plan. 

That is unnecessary because the government and related agencies have already developed community climate adaptation plans. The draft law also did not touch on regulations, rights protection, resource allocation, budgeting, participation mechanisms for running climate change adaptation plans. That means  traditional bureaucratic mechanisms will be responsible for designing and running climate change adaptation projects. 

While this draft law tries to promote the carbon market and carbon credits, it lacks any provision to oversight “greenwashing” activities that are prevalent in carbon trading. The government should look at the United Nations for example. In 2022, the United Nations’ High-Level Expert Group on the Net-Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities proposed measures to prevent greenwashing activities. For example, one of the measures is separating intensive carbon emission businesses such as petrochemicals from other businesses, until these high-emission businesses use more environmentally sustainable production. 


The formation of the Climate Change Fund (CCF), detailed in Article 24 of the draft bill, inspires hope. But the accessibility to the money might not be easy. In this draft law, the money will be given to government entities, state-owned enterprises, and private organizations to execute various climate mitigation plans within legal frameworks. It is dismaying that CCF does not provide stipulation for the fund to be used for offering assistance for loss and damage, supporting vulnerable groups, and engaging the public in fund management.

In short, Under this draft law, CCF might serve government projects and business and might overlook marginalized and vulnerable communities. 

For instance, Section 6 outlines a Capacity Building Program for helping business operators in pilot schemes to reduce emission. in GHG reporting during the initial pilot phase. However, Article 28 that is related to access to CCF’s financial grant  prioritizes government agencies and state enterprises over small and medium-sized operators.


Some critics even call this draft law overly ambitious for Thailand. However, compared to our ASEAN neighbors, our country is falling behind in implementing climate actions.

Look no further than our neighbor in the Mekong region. Vietnam in 2021 saw a remarkable 337% increase in solar generation and subsequent reduction in  coal and gas consumption.

In 2022, Indonesia joined the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) –which is an intergovernmental partnership  for accelerating the phase-out of fossil fuels — Jakarta Government pledges to cap total power sector emissions at 290 million tons of CO2eq by 2030. Indonesia also launched its national emission trading scheme for  coal-fired power plants in 2023, aligning with a revised unconditional NDC target of a 31.9% emissions reduction by 2030. Both Indonesia and Vietnam also signed the Coal Exit and Methane Pledge agreement at COP26.

Regrettably, Thailand has not joined these accelerating fossil-fuel phase out partnerships. 

That said, the draft of Thailand’s climate change legislation should be amended to serve all related sectors. Apart from giving weight on carbon credit and climate funding, this draft should have included, if not prioritized  transitioning the energy and agricultural sectors to low-carbon industries. Our farm sector is carbon intensive too.

This draft law should help promote the consumers and businesses access to increasingly popular and affordable technology such as  solar energy and it should immediately help promote low-carbon rice production. Market-based solutions like ETS could then complement these efforts.

* First published on the Bangkok Post





As a communicator and researcher at Climate Finance Network Thailand, Kongpob brings a dynamic background in journalism, specializing in human rights and environmental issues. With an educational background in International Relations and Applied Economics, he has seamlessly merged a passion for reading and outdoor activities with a commitment to understanding the intersection of finance and climate change.