The stance of environmental and natural resource policy under the government of 'Srettha Thavisin'
📢 According to the policy statement from Mr. 'Srettha Thavisin’s government,' scheduled to be announced to the parliament on September 11, 2023, it can be summarized that this policy is unlikely to be a comprehensive development-oriented government policy. Instead, it appears to prioritize trade competitiveness, incorporating environmental, resource, educational, healthcare, social, cultural, welfare, foreign affairs, security, and other factors. It is primarily aimed at promoting trade competitiveness and it reflects the identity of this government as one oriented toward commerce and investment.
This government has announced policies addressing various problems across different areas, including the economic impact of COVID-19, an aging population , debt issues, inequality, technological changes , climate change, and global security. However, the government recognizes that these problems didn’t arise on their own but are the result of changes in the economy and society.
Therefore, the government aims not only to regulate and prepare for these changes but also to actively embrace a free-market ideology. They plan to do this by presenting large-scale economic initiatives, such as promoting investment, developing economic infrastructure suitable for large investments, revitalizing the fishing industry, and bolstering the economy through global free trade promotion.
There is no question that Srettha’s government has not raised or addressed concerns regarding political and economic structures that have led Thailand into vulnerability and inequality. Specifically, issues like concentration of power within the bureaucratic system, resource depletion, and the manipulation of influence by large capital groups that affect resources, technology, markets, and state policies t. The government's lack of control and oversight over agricultural and industrial capital groups at the top of the pollution chain to mitigate PM 2.5 air pollution and failure to empower and protect resource-based communities have been evident. In the past, the Prayuth government has not adopted these proposals as primary policies, as they did not consider public policy suggestions, such as the drafts of the Clean Air Act and the Pollution Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) Act, which could be crucial tools for addressing these issues at the state level. This leads to the question, "How can the PM 2.5 air pollution problem be effectively addressed?"
The issuance of land rights documents to farmers is not only a beneficial practice for securing their land ownership but also promotes the utilization of military-owned land for agricultural purposes. However, in cases where the majority of land remains tightly controlled and tied up by a handful of capital groups, we must contemplate the persisting economic disparities and analyze why land distribution has not been consistently equitable. These lands are in the hands of the wealthy for various reasons. To rectify this situation and establish fairness in land allocation, we can employ land tax policy tools with appropriate proportions and construct a communal land management system or "community deeds." Additionally, we should refine land banking laws and safeguard environmental, economic, and urban planning areas intelligently, ensuring a fair and equitable transfer of land ownership to farmers, and preventing inappropriate monopolization by capital groups in the near future.
Thailand's marine environment has suffered from the fishing industry depleting marine resources, resulting in the destruction of natural resources. Consequently, affecting the livelihoods of coastal fishing communities in Thailand. Furthermore, the pressure exerted by the European Union's Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing policy has had an impact on the Thai fishing industry and has severely affected labor rights within this sector. To revitalize the fishing industry and restore resource management to its former state, the government must address the question of how to protect both the environment and the rights of coastal communities. It also needs to confront the EU's pressure measures in a way that mitigates their previous impact.
Currently, what is of the most importance to the population, particularly the vulnerable, is the assurance of food security and the presence of a comprehensive state welfare system that safeguards the well-being of citizens, ensuring stability and equality. In an era where people grapple with low incomes, high debts, aging society, and a lack of resource security for sustenance, establishing security in terms of nutrition and comprehensive life welfare becomes more imperative than the acquisition of digital currencies, which can swiftly deplete and fluctuate within the pockets of investors.
Therefore, it is imperative to establish well-defined policies across various dimensions. These include transitioning from chemical-based agriculture to sustainable farming practices, promoting community rights in resource management for local food security, local water management systems, and protecting labor rights in all aspects of life, such as employment, healthcare, and food security. Without precise policies in these domains, the populist financial support provided by the state may not significantly enhance the quality of life for the population.
The issue of energy poses significant consequences on global warming, pollution, and the costly electricity rates. The government's resolution should extend beyond altering the energy usage structure, devising plans for demand management, and procuring appropriate energy sources. If the government does not consider changing the energy supply structure, especially the energy sector controlled by a handful of capital entities, the excess reserve energy production persists. Most notably, fossil fuels remain the primary cause of global warming. Many power plants operate without commissioning while securing contracts with state-guaranteed profits for private entities. Additionally, many power plants claim to use clean energy but generate severe pollution detrimental to the environment and public health.
While renewable energies such as solar and wind are more cost-effective than fossil fuels and are energies that citizens can produce and manage themselves, the government's policies on this matter are rather vague. When the energy structure remains unchanged, the entire burden falls on nature and the populace, leading to energy prices higher than they should be. If the government does not overhaul this structure and refuses to expedite the transition to renewable energy as the primary source, where will the government find the funds to cover the costs when electricity and gasoline prices rise every few months, not including the price that must be paid for the ecological, economic, and social damages from power plants.
The overarching issue here is the transformation of our climate “global warming”. The government not only fails to dismantle the energy sources that exacerbate global warming but also promotes the lopsided industrial economy, massive infrastructure projects, and much more, all of which release copious amounts of greenhouse gasses and devastate fragile ecosystems. Furthermore, the carbon-neutral policy is not simply a matter of carbon credits or carbon trading. It serves as a lure to garner popular support by involving communities as laborers, allowing large industrial conglomerates in both Thailand and neighboring countries to offset their carbon emissions by purchasing the community's forest resources at lower prices. However, as stated in the government's announcement, the carbon-neutral policy primarily aims to position itself as a leader in promoting investments through carbon credits in the ASEAN region. Not concerned about global warming.
The most crucial element that has vanished entirely from the climate change issue is the impact on and adaptation of vulnerable populations facing environmental upheavals. Resource degradation, crop yields, health, and the economy have all suffered. It doesn't appear at all that the government places importance on compensating for losses, mitigating damages, and building resilience to climate change. The policies presented, such as water management and agricultural improvements, seem to be nothing more than economic competitiveness promotions.
It's unfortunate that the issue of centralized resource management remains untouched. The problem extends to more than 4,000 communities that fall under state-declared conservation forest areas. These communities should have the right to manage resources, establish environmental services, preserve biodiversity, ensure food security, and develop resource-based economies. However, the government's neglect endangers farmers' access to resources, their ability to manage crop genetics, and local knowledge concerning biodiversity. This disregard is especially evident in the government's lack of consideration for safeguarding their rights in the context of free trade agreements.
When the state continues to emphasize dam construction, water diversion, and water management under a centralized government system without decentralizing power for community water management, the El Niño problem can intensify. This system does not address the power imbalance between the government and large capital groups, and it hastily accelerates infrastructure development to attract foreign investments and expedite free trade without considering environmental systems and social justice. It also fails to distribute power to protect community rights and establish a social safety net for the impoverished and vulnerable populations.
All the problems mentioned by the government in the beginning will become more severe because the government's policy should not only focus on economic competition but also emphasize the sustainable well-being of society and the environment, with justice as a crucial principle. The government should return to sustainable development goals (SDGs), which include people, peace, participation, prosperity, and environmental sustainability. This should be achieved by establishing a civil and legal state democracy that prioritizes the protection of rights, the freedom of the people, and the promotion of justice while limiting the state and capital from violating the rights of the people in a good and sustainable manner for the future.
Read the full report here. 👉 https://www.banmuang.co.th/news/politic/344204