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Cablegate: Thailand Supports Copenhagen Accord but Lags In

VZCZCXRO2626
RR RUEHAST RUEHCHI RUEHDH RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHNH RUEHPB
RUEHPOD RUEHSL RUEHTM RUEHTRO
DE RUEHBK #0163/01 0200719
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 200719Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9624
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 7545
RUEHSV/AMEMBASSY SUVA 0524
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF INTERIOR WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHMFIUU/HQ EPA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 1058
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 7523

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 000163

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR SECC and OES: DNelson,RKastenberg,KLarsen
COMMERCE FOR NOAA
USDA FOR FAS
STATE PASS TO USAID

E.0 12958: N/A
TAGS: KGHG KGCC SENV EAGR ECON ETRD TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND SUPPORTS COPENHAGEN ACCORD BUT LAGS IN
ASSOCIATING

REF: A) State 3079 (B) 09 State 132367 (C) 09 Bangkok 3034

BANGKOK 00000163 001.2 OF 003


1. (U) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: ESTHoff discussed COP15 with Thailand's
lead climate change negotiator on January 13; Ref A demarche was
delivered to Minister of Environment on January 14. Both viewed the
Copenhagen Accord positively. The PM will chair an interagency
meeting on January 21 to start the decision-making process for
association. It is unlikely that Thailand will associate by January
31. The ongoing public/private process to determine Thailand's
emission target and national actions also will likely not be
completed by January 31. The complexity of Thailand's economic and
political landscape complicates the democratic decision-making by
all stakeholders. The Royal Thai Government (RTG) is hampered by
lack of uniform metrics among government agencies and the private
sector. The RTG requests U.S. technical assistance, rather than
funds, to help it establish baselines for emissions. As Thailand
continues to play a leadership role in the ASEAN climate change
working group, assistance to Thailand would be well placed. Thailand
will host an ASEAN Climate Change Working Group meeting some time
before January 31 to discuss association with the Accord. Post will
continue to urge the RTG to associate by that date. END SUMMARY AND
COMMENT.

2. On January 13, ESTH officer met with Ms. Areewattana Tummakird,
Director, Climate Change Strategies Division, Office of Natural
Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP), Ministry of
Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE), to continue an ongoing
discussion on the Copenhagen Accord. Areewattana was Thailand's
lead negotiator at the COP15 in Copenhagen and the previous COP15
preparatory meetings. The Prime Minister has charged Areewattana's
office with the policy lead for national and international climate
change analysis and action. Both Prime Minister Abhisit and MoNRE
Minister Suwit attended COP15. ESTHoff discussed Ref A demarche
briefly with MoNRE Minister Suwit on January 14, and with MFA
Americas Director Kanchana on January 15.

ASSOCIATION WITH THE COPENHAGEN ACCORD
--------------------------------------
3. (SBU) Areewattana said that the Prime Minister, MoNRE Minister
and she all viewed the Copenhagen Accord as a positive step.
However, the Royal Thai Government's (RTG) decision to "associate"
or not with the Accord could not be made until the RTG completed a
stakeholder decision-making process that included the RTG
interagency process, as well as consultation with Thailand's
extensive private sector. Since the Conference of the Parties in
Copenhagen (COP15), Areewattana's office has been analyzing the Thai
situation, in the context of the Copenhagen Accord, to inform the
interagency process. On January 20, her office will convene a
meeting of the RTG's "Climate Change Academic Committee" (which
includes policymakers) to discuss COP15, the benefits for Thailand
of associating with the Accord, a national emission target number
and Thai actions. On January 21 the Prime Minister will convene the
RTG's interagency working group on climate change to attempt
decisions on these topics. Areewattana does not expect final
decisions on any of these points by January 31, but intends to have
it all sorted out by the June UNFCC meeting in Bonn. (Note: ESTHoff
will keep in contact with Areewattana to field any questions for her
interagency meeting on association, and will meet with her on
January 22 to assess results of the interagency meeting, to identify
any avenues for helping Thailand to associate by January 31. End
Note.)

THAILAND'S EMMISSIONS TARGET AND NATIONAL ACTIONS
--------------------------------------------- ----
4. (SBU) At COP15, Areewattana reported that the PM was pushing his
negotiating team to come up with an emissions target, and her team
had to explain that Thailand was just not ready despite interagency
meetings in the weeks leading up to COP15. Areewattana told ESTHoff
that Thai officials felt that prior to associating with the Accord,
there should be some agreement on Thailand's capacity to reduce
emissions. Determining a possible emission target is in turn
complicated by the RTG's inability to formulate an accurate
inventory of its emissions.

BANGKOK 00000163 002.2 OF 003

EMMISSIONS TARGETS: THAILAND VS INDONESIA
-----------------------------------------
5. (SBU) At COP15, the PM and others used Indonesia's announcement
of an emissions target as a contrast to Thailand's complexity.
Areewattana explained the differences with Thailand. Indonesia has
relatively little industry that emits greenhouse gases. Most
Indonesian emissions are forest -related, with the vast majority of
the forests in government hands. Thus on the one hand it is easier
to measure emissions from one major source, and on the other with
government control it is easier to commit to an emission target. In
Thailand, on the other hand, the emissions are from scattered
industries, most of which are in the private sector. Like the U.S.,
Thailand at the moment does not have firm legislation upon which to
base an emissions commitment, and even if it did, Thailand's
enforcement regime is not sufficiently developed. To this one needs
to add a robust environmental civil society which needs to be part
of the national dialogue on emissions. Thailand's extensive
interagency process and government to private sector consultations
are still ongoing and nowhere near ready for a solid decision.
Areewattana said that the January 20 and 21 meetings would hopefully
serve to make progress on the emissions goal, but in the meantime
would at least reassure the interagency team that associating with
the Accord was the right step in the short term.

THAILAND'S PROBLEM: NO AGREEMENT ON BASELINE EMISSIONS
--------------------------------------------- ---------
6. (SBU) While Thailand's emissions are quantified by various
organizations, Areewattana says her office does not have confidence
in them, especially as emissions figures by the UN and other
organizations are usually based on Thai figures that she knows are
suspect. Within Thailand, the relevant ministries, for example,
Energy, Industry, and Transportation, do not have uniform protocols
for measuring emissions. The RTG has trouble aggregating the
disparate reporting and piecemeal reporting mechanisms. Some
sectors, such as in forestry and waste management, are not
sufficiently quantified. It has become somewhat of an interagency
impasse and Areewattana reported this difficulty as an area that the
U.S. could provide expert assistance.

THE ASEAN COUNTRIES
-------------------
7. (SBU) There will be a meeting of the ASEAN working group on
Climate Change some time before January 31. On the agenda will be
the post-Copenhagen path towards COP16 in Mexico, as well as
discussion of associating with the Copenhagen Accord. Also to be
discussed are common strategies for accessing Clean Development
Mechanism funds. Thailand will be pushing again a common ASEAN
position on various climate change matters; this proved impossible
at COP15 and will remain difficult since the various countries are
so different in their mitigation and adaptation situations.
Areewattana predicted that Singapore and Indonesia will associate
with the Accord. Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia would basically
like to associate but are working through decision-making processes.
The ASEAN nations are grouped in different ways. Vietnam, Burma,
Cambodia, Laos, and Brunei are not big emitters, while Singapore and
Indonesia are but for different reasons. As she understood that the
Philippines was about to announce an emissions target, Areewattana
thought that the Philippines may also associate soon with the
Accord.

NEXT STEPS
----------
8. (U) As the Thai interagency group discusses emissions baselines
and targets, it will also have to grapple with how to pay for
standardizing emissions reporting. Areewattana noted that Thailand
had a modest 1997 grant by the UN Global Environmental Facility
(GEF) to help with its required national communication under the UN
Framework Convention on Climate Change, but in recent years there
has been no foreign assistance to assist with emissions inventories.
(Note: Thailand is executing a number of other GEF projects related
to clean energy. U.S. EPA assisted Bangkok with air pollution
quantification and reduction but that program ended. End Note.)

BANGKOK 00000163 003.2 OF 003


While Areewattana asked for U.S. assistance for emission
inventories, after some discussion she admitted that Thailand does
not need financial assistance so much as technical assistance. The
RTG still has some interagency coordination to develop. She noted
that the Ministry of Agriculture only began focusing in 2009 on its
role in climate change issues. Thailand still has to adequately
quantify emissions from crops and livestock methane generation, as
well as the forest component. (Note: Thailand is in the process of
reforestation after substantial deforestation in the 1980's that led
to a 1989 logging ban. The national intent is to establish
commercial sustainable logging at the appropriate time. Post will
use the visit of U.S. EPA Methane to Markets program officer and
Post's Embassy Science Fellow, an agricultural climate change
specialist, to give Areewattana's office some direction on
agricultural emissions. End Note.)

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