A 1.5°C compatible emissions pathway would require Thailand’s domestic GHG emissions to peak immediately and reduce by 37–55% below 2015 levels, or emissions level of 155–215 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030, excluding LULUCF.
Thailandʼs total GHG emissions
excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr
- 1.5°C compatible pathways
- Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
- Current policy projections
- 1.5°C emissions range
- Historical emissions
Thailand submitted an updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in November 2022 in which it commits to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% below a business-as-usual level by 2030.1 If it receives adequate international support, Thailand will aim for a 40% reduction by 2030 (a so called “conditional” NDC). The conditional NDC is equivalent to an annual reduction of 333 MtCO₂e by 2030.2
1 “Government of the Kingdom of Thailand. Thailand’s 2nd Updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). (2022).”“:https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/NDC/2022-11/Thailand 2nd Updated NDC.pdf
2 Climate Action Tracker. Thailand. Climate Action Tracker (2021).
3 “Government of Kingdom of Thailand. LONG-TERM LOW GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSION DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY (REVISED VERSION). (2022).
4 Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. Thailand Third Biennial Update Report. (2020).
5 IEA. Thailand. International Energy Agency (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 Thailand Government. Mid-century, Long-term Low Greenhouse Gas Emission Development Strategy Thailand. (2021).
9 IEA. Thailand. International Energy Agency (2021).
10 Kahintapongs, S. Renewable Energy Policy Development in Thailand. International Journal of Multidisciplinary in Management and Tourism 4, 148–155 (2020).
11 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).
12 Campbell, I. & Barlow, C. Hydropower Development and the Loss of Fisheries in the Mekong River Basin. Front Environ Sci 8, 200 (2020).
13 Ministry of Energy. Alternative Energy Development Plan (AEDP) 2018. (2018).
14 IEA. Putting a price on carbon – an efficient way for Thailand to meet its bold emission target. International Energy Agency (2020).
15 APERC. Compendium Of Energy Efficiency Policies in APEC Economies: Thailand. (2017).
16 Government of Kingdom of Thailand. Mid-century, Long-term Low Greenhouse Gas Emission Development Strategy (2021).
17 Nama Facility. Thailand – Thai Rice NAMA. Nama Facility.
18 Government of the Kingdom of Thailand. Thailand’s 2nd Updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). (2022).
19 Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. Climate Change Master Plan of Thailand. (2015).
20 International Energy Agency. Thailand – Countries & Regions – IEA. (2021).
21 Greenpeace. Southeast Asia Power Sector Scorecard. (2020).
22 Climate Action Tracker. Thailand. Climate Action Tracker (2021).
23 EGAT. EGAT Overview. (2020).
24 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).
25 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).
26 Smuthkalin, C., Murayama, T. & Nishikizawa, S. Evaluation of The Wind Energy Potential of Thailand considering its Environmental and Social Impacts using Geographic Information Systems. International Journal of Renewable Energy Research (IJRER) 8, 575–584 (2018).
27 Manomaiphiboon, K. et al. Wind energy potential analysis for Thailand: Uncertainty from wind maps and sensitivity to turbine technology. 14, 528–539 (2017).
28 Kompor, W., Ekkawatpanit, C. & Kositgittiwong, D. Assessment of ocean wave energy resource potential in Thailand. Ocean Coast Manag 160, 64–74 (2018).
29 Climate Action Tracker. Paris Agreement Compatible Sectoral Benchmarks: Elaborating the decarbonisation roadmap. (2020).
30 Thailand Government. Thailand’s Long Term Low Greenhouse Gas Emissions Development Strategy. (2022).
31 DEDE. Thailand Economy Update . (2020).
32 EGS-plan. Thailand’s Building Energy Code (BEC) enters into force as from 13th March 2021. (2021).
33 Gütschow, J., Günther, A. & Pflüger, M. The PRIMAP-hist national historical emissions time series v2.3 (1750-2019). Preprint at doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.5175154 (2021).
34 Wongsapai, W. Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Target. (2017).
35 EPPO. Energy Conservation Promotion Act. (2007).
36 Climate Action Tracker. Thailand. Climate Action Tracker (2021).
37 “Electrive. Thailand to only allow BEV sales from 2035 – electrive.com. Electrive (2021).“https://www.electrive.com/2021/04/23/thailand-to-only-allow-bev-sales-from-2035/
38 Thailand Development Research Institute. Clean energy needs far clearer policy. (2022).
39 USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. Thailand: Updated Biofuel Situation in 2022. (2022).
40 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.
Thailand will need international support, including finance, technology transfer and capacity building to close the emissions gap between its fair share and its domestic emissions pathway.
In 2022, Thailand also submitted a revised Long Term – Low Emissions Development Strategy (LT-LEDS), brought forward its “carbon neutrality” target to 2050 and set a net zero GHG emissions target for 2065.3
A 1.5°C compatible pathway would require Thailand to reduce its GHG emissions by 78–83%, or with a level of remaining emissions not higher than 75 MtCO₂e/yr, below 2015 levels by 2050, excluding LULUCF.40
Net zero GHG
Decarbonising the energy sector will be key to driving down emissions – in 2017, the energy sector accounted for 75% of Thailand’s total GHG emissions (mainly CO₂), excluding LULUCF.
Policy measures for the energy sector decarbonisation include displacing fossil fuels with renewable energy in power generation and sector coupling through electrification and efficiency improvements in the transport and industry sectors.3
- 1.5°C compatible pathways illustrate that the share of renewables in Thailand’s power sector would need to increase to between 57–67% by 2030, and close to 100% by 2040 from the 2019 level of 18%.
- A high uptake of renewables could bring down the sector’s emissions intensity to 100–180 gCO₂/kWh by 2030, from the 2019 level of 460 gCO₂/kWh.
- Thailand is currently heavily reliant on fossil fuels for power generation, particularly on fossil gas (86% and 66% respectively in 2020). Fossil fuels would need to be phased out from the power mix by around 2040 to be Paris Agreement compatible. Displacing gas and coal with renewable energy could also improve Thailand’s energy security and reduce fuel cost uncertainty.
- The buildings sector in Thailand made up 19% of final energy consumption in 2019 and accounts for half of the national electricity consumption.
- 1.5°C compatible pathways illustrate that the share of electricity demand in the building sector would need to rise to between 74–87% in 2030, and 90–97% by 2050, under different scenarios.
- Solid biomass has been significant for meeting the energy demand of buildings, with a 25% share in 2019, but all scenarios see a rapid decline in its demand, reaching 0–13% by 2050.
- Industry in Thailand relies heavily on fossil fuels for its energy needs. Their share was 48% in 2019, comprising of coal (23%), oil (14%) and natural gas (10%).
- In 1.5°C compatible pathways, electricity’s share of industry final energy demand reaches between 25–28% by 2030 and 49–61% by 2050, with all analysed scenarios demonstrating a rapid decline in direct CO₂ emissions to 29–33 MtCO₂/yr by 2030 and reaching nearly zero before 2050.
- Thailand’s transport sector is heavily dependent on fossil fuels, particularly oil. The share of electricity in the transport sector final energy demand is currently negligible.
- 1.5°C compatible pathways show a rapid electrification of the transport sector, with a projected increase in electricity’s share of the final energy demand to 13–43% by 2050.
- All scenarios show a peaking of fossil energy demand from the transport sector by 2019.
- Thailand has set a new electric vehicle (EV) roadmap to increase the uptake and domestic production of EVs.