Thailand’s rice-bowl under severe threat from climate change

Greenpeace calls on world leaders to help

Feature story - September 21, 2009
Greenpeace today called upon world leaders gathered in New York for a United Nations summit on climate change to set aside short sighted political self interest and to expedite climate action by making available 140 billion USD annually, to enable the very survival of those who are most vulnerable and least prepared to cope with climate change.

Asian Elephants (chang in Thai) take an early monring dip in a small creek outside Khao Yai National Park, 200 kilometers North of Bangkok, before setting off on the second leg of the Greenpeace-led Chang(e) Caravan.

As part of its ongoing Chang(e) Caravan Greenpeace has initiated a study on climate change impacts identification and vulnerability assessment of communities in the Thailand's Bangpakong river basin and is conducting a forum with farmers today as part of the research.  The study aims to assess the current and future vulnerability of communities to the impacts of climate change, as well as the adaptive capacity of communities, with the end view of incorporating appropriate adaptation strategies into the local government's Bangpakong Watershed Development Plan.

According to the evidence gathered so far, the Bangpakong River Basin, which empties into the Gulf of Thailand and is one of the earliest agricultural sites in Southeast Asia, is threatened with severe economic and environmental impacts due to flooding, drought, saltwater intrusion, and coastal erosion caused by climate change.

"Local rural communities stand to suffer most from climate change impacts.  They have already suffered from unequal patterns of industrial development and climate change will put further pressure on their current and future livelihoods. The latest climate modeling scenarios project that the worst impacts are yet to come.  We need to urgently assess the situation of these vulnerable communities so that solutions can be immediately implemented," said Ply Pirom, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Toxic Campaigner.

US President Obama will address the UN Heads of State for the first time in his presidency in what is expected to be the largest such gathering in history, convened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and may be a crucial milestone on the way to a fair, ambitious and binding climate agreement in Copenhagen in December.

"World leaders must listen to the voices of those already suffering the impacts of dangerous climate impacts in order to understand the imperative for acting. The meeting in New York is too great an opportunity to be squandered and Greenpeace is calling upon ASEAN leaders, especially Indonesian President Yudhoyono, to offer both impetus and solutions to break the current deadlock and together with President Obama take the necessary action to pull the world back from the brink of climate chaos," said Tara Buakamsri, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Campaign Manager.

Southeast Asia is among the most vulnerable and least prepared to cope with the impacts of climate change. The Chang(e) Caravan aims to gather support in its call for world leaders, particularly United States President Obama, to enact an ambitious, fair and binding climate deal this December in Copenhagen, and to make available necessary funds to protect Southeast Asia's natural forests, to ensure the future of the region, its biodiversity and its people.

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