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Current situation

What is Thailandʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

Emissions profile

Thailand’s energy sector represented 75% of Thailand’s emissions in 2017, excluding LULUCF. Within this 75%, over 40% of energy emissions originate from the power sector, almost 30% from the transport sector and 20% from manufacturing industries and construction.4

The second largest emitting sector is agriculture, representing 15% of total emissions (excluding LULUCF). Rice cultivation is responsible for over 50% of agriculture emissions followed by soil management (23%) and enteric fermentation from livestock (16%).4

Industrial processes generate 6% of Thailand’s total emissions (excluding LULUCF). The majority share of industry emissions is from mineral industry (60%), followed by chemical industry, metal production and non-energy products (38%).4

The waste sector is responsible for 4% of emissions. Roughly half of this is from wastewater treatment and discharge, with the remaining emissions from solid waste disposal.4

1 Government of the Kingdom of Thailand. Thailand’s Updated First Nationally Determined Contribution. (2020).

2 Climate Action Tracker. Thailand. Climate Action Tracker. (2021).

3 Thailand Government. Mid-century, Long-term Low Greenhouse Gas Emission Development Strategy Thailand. (2021).

4 Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. Thailand Third Biennial Update Report. (2020).

5 International Energy Agency. Thailand – Countries & Regions – IEA. (2021).

6 Ministry of Energy. Power Development Plan Revision 1.(2018).

7 The Diplomat. Thailand’s Renewable Energy Transitions: A Pathway to Realize Thailand 4.0. (2019).

8 IEA. Thailand. International Energy Agency. (2021).

9 Kahintapongs, S. Renewable Energy Policy Development in Thailand. Int. J. Multidiscip. Manag. Tour. 4, 148–155 (2020).

10 Luangchosiri, N., Ogawa, T., Okumura, H. & Ishihara, K. N. Success Factors for the Implementation of Community Renewable Energy in Thailand. Energies 2021, Vol. 14, Page 4203 14, 4203 (2021).

11 Campbell, I. & Barlow, C. Hydropower Development and the Loss of Fisheries in the Mekong River Basin. Front. Environ. Sci. 8, 200 (2020).

12 Ministry of Energy. Alternative Energy Development Plan (AEDP) 2018. (2018).

13 IEA. Putting a price on carbon – an efficient way for Thailand to meet its bold emission target. International Energy Agency. (2020).

14 APERC. Compendium Of Energy Efficiency Policies in APEC Economies: Thailand. (2017).

15 Nama Facility. Thailand – Thai Rice NAMA. Nama Facility.

16 Electrive. Thailand to only allow BEV sales from 2035 – electrive.com. Electrive. (2021).

17 Wongsapai, W. Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Target. (2017).

18 EPPO. Energy Conservation Promotion Act. (2007).

19 Greenpeace. Southeast Asia Power Sector Scorecard. (2020).

20 Climate Action Tracker. Thailand. Climate Action Tracker. (2021).

21 EGAT. EGAT Overview. (2020).

22 EGAT. Why does EGAT plan to build more coal-fired power plants when other Asian countries like China and India suspend new ones? Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (2020).

23 Kusumadewi, T. V., Winyuchakrit, P., Misila, P. & Limmeechokchai, B. GHG Mitigation in Power Sector: Analyzes of Renewable Energy Potential for Thailand’s NDC Roadmap in 2030. Energy Procedia 138, 69–74 (2017).

24 Smuthkalin, C., Murayama, T. & Nishikizawa, S. Evaluation of The Wind Energy Potential of Thailand considering its Environmental and Social Impacts using Geographic Information Systems. Int. J. Renew. Energy Res. 8, 575–584 (2018).

25 Manomaiphiboon, K. et al. Wind energy potential analysis for Thailand: Uncertainty from wind maps and sensitivity to turbine technology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15435075.2017.1305963 14, 528–539 (2017).

26 Kompor, W., Ekkawatpanit, C. & Kositgittiwong, D. Assessment of ocean wave energy resource potential in Thailand. Ocean Coast. Manag. 160, 64–74 (2018).

27 While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available; thus, we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches.

28 Assuming LULUCF levels of -91 MtCO₂e as reported for 2016 in Thailand’s Biennial Report 3.

29 Liberalisation of Thailand’s power sector will help it achieve the planned 50% total production capacity. Ideally, efforts that introduce enabling regulations and unbundle utilities, further supported by a competitive wholesale and retail market, could be an important trigger for much-needed investment that allows the country to adopt renewable energy technologies more rapidly and comprehensively. See article for further discussion.

Thailandʼs current GHG emissions

MtCO₂e/yr

Displayed values

By sector

  • Combustion
  • Fugitive emissions
  • Other
  • Agriculture
  • Industry (processes)
  • Waste
  • LULUCF
Energy (75%)69%0

By gas

  • CO₂
  • CH₄
  • N₂O
  • Other
073%0

Sectors by gas

Energy
090%0
Agriculture
073%0
Industry (processes)
093%0

Energy system

Power, transport and industry represent the lion’s share of energy sector emissions.

The electricity sector is dominated by fossil fuels. Natural gas comprised 65% of the power mix in 2020, whereas coal represented 19%.5 Renewable energy currently represents just 16%, mainly from biofuels. Solar and wind have penetrated the power market in recent years although remain at relatively low levels (4%). Other contributions include hydropower (2%).

The Power Development Plan (PDP) 2018 plans for natural gas to represent 53% of power generation by 2037 and 12% will be coal.6,7 It also indicates that renewable energy will increase to 21% of the power mix. An additional 9% of power is planned to come from imported hydrogen. The previous PDP sets targets for 2036, and the revised version sets targets for 2037. In comparison to the previous PDP, Thailand will increase its reliance on gas (from 37% to 53%) and decrease its reliance on coal (from 23% to 12%) for the target dates.6

Transport was responsible for the largest share of energy consumption (39% in 2018) and it was responsible for 20% of Thailand’s total emissions in 2016 (excl. LULUCF).4 Thailand aims to decarbonise transport through a CO₂ emissions tax, promoting low carbon vehicles and expanding rail infrastructure.4 Thailand has an electric vehicle roadmap, with a goal to become an EV hub for the ASEAN region, and for 100% of new vehicle sales to be EVs by 2035.2

In terms of industry sector, the Energy Efficiency Plan (2015-2036) aims for a 30% reduction of energy intensity by 2036.2

Thailand is increasingly relying on coal, oil and natural gas imports, which makes it highly dependent on international markets and creates energy insecurity and fuel price risks.8 Renewable energy offers an opportunity for a domestic energy production, for example through hydro energy, bio energy, solar, wind, geothermal, energy storage and community renewable energy projects.9,10 However, hydropower developments in the Mekong River basin can negatively impact biodiversity, livelihoods and economies of lower Mekong communities.11

Targets and commitments

Economy-wide targets

Target type

Base year emissions target

NDC target

Unconditional NDC Target:

  • As expressed by the country: 20% below business-as-usual by 2030 (excl. LULUCF).
  • Re-expressed below a selected baseline: 2% below 2015 by 2030 (excl. LULUCF).

Conditional NDC Target:

  • As expressed by the country: 25% below business-as-usual by 2030 (excl. LULUCF).
  • Re-expressed below a selected baseline: 8% below 2015 by 2030 (excl. LULUCF).

Market mechanism

Open to exploring bilateral, regional, and multilateral market-based cooperation.

Long-term target

Thailand does not have a net zero emissions target, but has ambition to “move towards net zero as soon as possible within the second half of the century, and carbon neutrality by 2065,” as outlined in the Long-term Low Greenhouse Gas Emission Development Strategy (LT-LEDS).3

Sector coverage

EnergyIndustryWasteAgriculture

Greenhouse gas coverage

CO₂CH₄PFCsHFCsN₂OSF₆

Sectoral targets

Energy

  • 30% of the total energy consumption to be non-fossil energy by 2036.12
  • 30-35% heat generated from renewables by 2036.12

Transport

  • 25% biofuels energy demand in transport.12
  • 250,000 EVs; 3000 electric public buses; 53,000 electric motorcycles by 2025.2
  • 100% of car production to be EVs by 2030.2
  • EVs to represent 100% of new vehicle sales by 2035.2

LULUCF

  • Increase forest areas to 55% of the country’s land by 2037.2

Power

  • Increase net production capacity by 67% from 46,090 MW in 2017 to 77,211 MW in 2037.6
  • 33% renewable energy power capacity by 2037.6
  • 9% imported hydro power and 21% renewable generation for 2037.13

Buildings

  • Reduce energy consumption by 4819 ktoe by 2036 in commercial and public buildings and 2153 ktoe in the residential sector.14

Industry

  • 30% energy intensity reduction by 2036 in the industry sector.2

Agriculture

  • Reduce emissions from rice production by 26% between 2018-2023.15

Footnotes