Bangkok, Thailand – A group of representatives from environmental organizations, including the Environmental Law Foundation (EnLaw), Greenpeace Thailand, Ecological Alert and Recovery-Thailand (EARTH), Northern Breath Council and Chiang Mai Breathe Council, as well as private individuals, welcomed the verdict on the #RightToCleanAir case. The group filed a lawsuit with the court against the National Environment Board (NEB) and two ministries — the Natural Resources and Environment and Industry Ministries — for failing to step up action on the PM2.5 crisis. Measures to address this pollution have been falling behind the implementation described in the Driving National Agenda on “Solving the Problem of Particulate Matter” 2019, resulting in the state’s failure to protect public health as recognized and protected by the law.
The Central Administrative Court has ruled that the Ministry of Industry, under the supervision of a minister, shall implement the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) within 60 days. At the same time, the court has dismissed the release and amendment of the Notification of the Ministry of Industry regarding the prescribing of air pollutant concentrations from factories not to exceed the global standard of 2.5 microns.
As for the adjustment of PM 2.5 dust standards following the World Health Organization (WHO) standard, the court said that despite the delayed process, the NEB did tighten the dust standard within three months after the civil society complaint was filed on July 8, 2022, and thus, the court dismissed this aspect of the case.
The four key indictements of the ‘Right to Clean Air’ case are as follows:
- NEB shall amend the Notification on the ambient air standard of PM 2.5 to align with the WHO-IT3, based on the public hearing that decreed a 24-hour monitoring and that annual levels for PM 2.5 must not exceed 37 and 15 μg/m3, respectively.
- NEB and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to impose and regulate PM2.5 concentrations emitted by factories to be consistent with the global standard.
- The Industry Ministry shall create or amend a notification that prescribes the air concentration of pollutants released from factories, such that PM 2.5 will not exceed the limits and be consistent with the global standard.
- The Industry Ministry shall carry out the PRTR and include PM2.5 on the target pollutant and chemicals list.
The ‘Right to Clean Air’ case is not the first air pollution case to be brought before a court by civil society. Over the past two years, there have been five air pollution lawsuits filed by citizens, reflecting the government’s failure to take the matter seriously, and, thus, its inability to address PM2.5 impacts to people.
Surachai Trong-ngam, the secretary-general of EnLaw, said:
“Today’s ruling of the Central Administrative Court has set a new standard for environmental cases in Thailand, particularly those related to air pollution, which have a wide-range impact on Thai people. We’ll keep a close eye on the government’s progress toward measures for PM 2.5 and the implementation of the PRTR. As for those points of the case that were dismissed, setting a standard for industrial dust emission to reduce air pollution at the origin, we will further consult with civil society on a possible appeal, as we have 30 days to file an appeal for reconsideration of the court order.”
Penchom Saetang, the director of Ecological Alert and Recovery-Thailand, said:
“The Pollutant Release and Transfer Register or PRTR is a regulation enforced by many countries across the world to address pollution. It is different from existing environmental laws, usually defining a general concept of environmental protection. The PRTR is implemented to directly supervise industrial factories and other sources of pollution directly, thus reducing pollution emitted to the environment. The main purpose of the PRTR is to provide the public with easy access to information on the amount and types of pollutants from every source via a website aligned with the community right-to-know. This regulation will create a big database that includes sources, types, and amounts of pollution and is open access for agencies and the public. Thailand should accelerate the implementation of the PRTR so that air pollution could be dealt with more effectively.”
Alliya Moun-ob, Air Pollution Campaigner for Greenpeace Thailand, said:
“Although civil society has won the case, our work will continue until these environmental issues are resolved. From now on, civil society will closely monitor measures set by the new government to address PM 2.5 issues as this threatens public health and well-being. We will call for a faster implementation, as health protection is the most urgent agenda.”
From now on, civil society will closely monitor and follow up on the regulations imposed on the Industry Ministry by the court order. We hope to gather support from the public to push the PRTR forward, via an online channel at thaiprtr.com, to ensure we have a pollutant database in Thailand that is open and accessible to everyone. Our health cannot wait. Access to clean air is our fundamental right.
 Co-plaintiffs include Environmental Law Foundation (EnLaw), Greenpeace Thailand, Ecological Alert and Recovery-Thailand, Northern Breath Council and Chiang Mai Breathe Council
For more information, please contact:
Somrudee Panasudtha, Greenpeace Thailand, Tel. 081 929 5747, Email: [email protected]