ชนบท : Rural Areas

Taking stock of Post-Copenhagen: where are we heading

The high level climate talk that just ended in Koenigswinter, West Germany yesterday was hailed as an ice-breaking event. I wonder what was the carbon footprints this event generated to just "break the ice", supposed to pave a way to Cancun talk in November.

This, however, is a necessary step to ensure that UN climate talk remains on track, and continued to be supported. To recapture the failures in Copenhagen, again, among the complexity of emerging item agendas and "the building block approach" devised in Copenhagen, I see at least four major stumbling blocks that would have to be overcome for a successful negotiation:

Q&A: Ecological Crisis: Next Challenge for World Social Forum

Ten years after its founding, the World Social Forum (WSF) has come to represent a rallying point for activists and grassroots groups committed to shaping an alternative world view.

"It is very important that we have this space for all of us to come together and shape a vision that reflects our concerns," says Nicola Bullard, a senior associate of Focus on the Global South, a Bangkok-based think tank championing issues that matter to people in the developing world. "We have been able to build our own discourse, our own thinking, our own legitimacy."

On climate change, Thailand is not cutting it

Here we go again. Thursday it was India that joined the ranks of developing economies to announce significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in advance of the United Nations climate change discussions that begin in Copenhagen today.

So where is Thailand? When are we going to demonstrate any seriousness about our role in reducing emissions? After all, scientists warn that we're poised to receive a disproportionate share of the impact of global climate change. Our shores and coastal communities will be significantly impacted if the world as a whole does not start embarking on a major CO2 diet. Bangkok in particular will face major problems from flooding and sea level rise but, so far, hardly a word from our nation's leaders who reside here.

The Dark Side of Green Energy

A.T. Biopower is just one of many small power plants to come on line in the past decade as Thailand follows the global trend to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. The country's current goal is to generate 20% of the nation's electricity from renewable sources by 2022, a target similar to those set by the EU, UK and Australia.

Bhorn says she's unfamiliar with new energy polices but has become increasingly familiar with environmental changes occurring in her neighborhood since the A.T. Biopower plant came on line in 2005. Her Hor Krai community is not alone. Problems and concerns over social and environmental impacts from biomass power plants have become commonplace over the past few years. Supakij Nantaworakarn, a renewable energy researcher with the Healthy Public Policy Foundation, estimates that protests against biomass projects have been widespread, occurring in at least 20 Thai provinces, many of which are on going.

Vanishing islands look to the world

Taukiei Kitara has travelled a long way from the South Pacific island of Tuvalu to get a simple message across to the thousands of international delegates attending the climate change talks in Bangkok. He wants to tell them that if they don't do something, and fast, rising sea levels will swamp the low-lying tropical islands located midway between Australia and Hawaii he calls home. "I want the world to know that we are one of the most vulnerable countries, and we are here," said Mr Kitara.

But the fisherman-turned-activist has failed so far to get the 4,000 climate change negotiators to lift their heads out of technical texts and come up with a timely solution for people like him. The Bangkok meeting is the second last before the crucial Copenhagen talks later in the year, where it's hoped a climate pact will be struck to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

New Report on CDM in Thailand

Thailand might be mistaken for a committed climate change combatant if the only metric is its aggressive promotion of carbon credits' generation from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Since the country's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in 2002, CDM development represents Thailand's only tangible response to climate change: nearly one hundred CDM projects entering the project pipeline since 2005. However, a DRAFT report circulated today by Thaiclmate's Nantiya Tangwisutijit reveals that a survey of some of the more widely publicized CDM projects in Thailand reveal that they neither comply with the intentions of CDM as prescribed in the Kyoto Protocol, and may actually causing public health problems and disruption of communities. 

Factbox: Key issues on the table at Bangkok climate talks

Delegates at U.N. climate talks in Bangkok are trying to whittle down a complex negotiating text that will form the basis of a broader global pact to curb the pace of climate change.

The two-week talks are crucial because negotiators have very little time to trim the options and alternative wording proposals in the 180-page text with just over two months to go before a Dec. 7-18 climate meeting in Copenhagen.

Following are some of the main issues being discussed in Bangkok.

It's a question of taste: Assam tea under climate threat

IT'S KNOWN for its strong body and flavour. But now, threatened by a long dry spell, Assam tea is facing the adverse effects of climate change. An official at the Regional Meteorological Centre in Guwahati says that the region has been rain deficient through the last decade. In fact, in its National Action Plan on Climate Change, the central government has observed a warming trend in the north-east that is linked to overall global warming.

Now, scientists at Tocklai Experimental Station, the world's oldest tea research institute - based in Jorhat in Assam - have started exploring the overall impact of abiotic stress, climate change and temperature on the quality of Assam tea.

Grassroots power play

They don't use jargon such as 'climate change' or 'green revolution', but what like-minded villagers in remote areas of southern Thailand are doing is actually working to slow down global warming and promote energy self-reliance. MANIPULATING GRAVITY (left): Locals use simple designs to convert water flowing down a mountainside into energy. The water pushes the blades of a turbine runner connected to a generator; when the runner spins, electricity is produced. Karoon Khunthon, top right, standing next to an old model turbine of his. Supak Hatti, below right, is happy with his newly developed model.

Mekong nations must prepare for climate change

The Nation

Pongphon Sarnsamak

Countries in the Mekong River Basin should learn how to predict climate change and develop ways to adapt to it, a Bangkok seminar was told yesterday. Then they will understand how to effectively reduce the adverse impact this climate change threatens to have on the region.