Greenpeace Statement: Haze endangers people’s health and contribute to climate change

Press release - March 14, 2007
Tara Buakamsri of Greenpeace Southeast Asia said: "Greenpeace is calling on the Thai government to declare the provinces of Chiang Mai and Chiangrai under a state of calamity due to the thick haze that is now choking these provinces. The situation has deteriorated to a point where public health in the affected areas is now seriously threatened, with possible short and long-term economic repercussions. Government resources in terms of personnel and budget must immediately be made available to these provinces to help prevent severe health impacts among the populace and to immediately stop open-burning be it in the forests, farmlands or other areas that could result in the release and intensification of toxic fumes.

Haze caused by open burning in forests and farm lands blanket cities in Northen Thailand. Greenpeace warns that the haze threaten people's health and contribute to global climate change.

Children cover their faces as haze caused by open burning in forests and farm lands blanket cities in Northen Thailand and have reached dangerous levels. Greenpeace warns that the haze threaten people's health and contribute to global climate change.

"The Government should implement the zero-burning policy and penalize offenders. At the same time,  emergency and relief measures must be put in place to deal with the increasing  health impacts arising from this disaster. The government should also assess the environmental and economic damages caused by these forest fires and work out a collective forest fire prevention plan together with our neighboring countries, especially Laos , Myanmar, Cambodia and China to avoid a repetition of this episode in the future. Towards this end, the implementation of the ASEAN  Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution is imperative.

"In the long-term, Chang Mai must enforce very strict air quality standards along with other environmental laws, especially during the dry season. After all it is Thailand's prime tourist destination and should be known as the cleanest and greenest place in the country.

"Haze resulting from forest fires and open burning does not only endanger people's health but, through the release of massive amounts of carbon dioxide, also contribute to climate change, which is acknowledged by scientists as the greatest environmental threat facing mankind today. Greenpeace urges the Thai government to seriously take into account the formulation of climate change-related policies ranging from raising public awareness to stopping forest fires to reduction of the country's fossil fuel use. Without concrete plans, we face the specter of annual health-damaging haze and the calamitous impacts of climate change."

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