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Conclusions

To avoid the sort of impacts estimated in the box opposite, all nations will have to find ways to reduce their contribution of greenhouse gases. The Climate Change Convention signed in Rio places the onus on everyone to limit carbon dioxide emissions, although the developed countries are expected to take the lead. While the implementation of this agreement is not yet clear, we have argued in this chapter that industrialized and developing nations can significantly contribute to efforts to halt global warming at relatively low cost at least at the outset of such a programme.

Thailand's CO2 emissions from fuel combustion will double over the next decade, from 24 to nearly 50 million tonnes annually. An aggressive demand side management effort in the power sector could reduce emissions by 2.5 million tonnes annually by the year 2001. The average cost of conserved carbon for these measures would be about negative US$1901tonne.

Thailand's nascent efforts in the area of electricity conservation can provide lessons for other developing countries. Clearly, in order to initiate effective DSM efforts in developing nations, industrialized nations will have to provide significant technical and financial assistance. Prime vehicles for providing this assistance are the multilateral development banks, which already shape the power infrastructure in developing nations. The banks must internalize the concepts of integrated resource planning and demand side management if they are to play a positive role in this regard. They will then be in a sound position to introduce loan recipients to these techniques and to assist them in developing national strategies for energy efficiency and carbon conservation.


Climate change impacts in Thailand

In Thailand, the warming under GISS 2 x CO2 climate la climate model scenario run assuming a doubling of CO2 levels] is equivalent to a 3C to 6C increase in current mean annual temperature, a projection that is broadly in agreement with other GCMs [general circulation models]. There are, however, substantial differences between GCMs concerning changes in precipitation, which vary widely from normal but generally show a reduction under the GISS 2 x CO2 scenario. Northern Thailand may be drier in most of the months except in July which is currently a dry period and this would appear to benefit cropping. However, August and September would experience only between 73 per cent and 89 per cent of present rainfall. Other GCMs, however, do not indicate such a reduction in rainfall and it is important to emphasize this uncertainty. Under the GISS 2 x CO2 scenario winters are also drier but as very little rain is normally expected during that time of the year the adverse implications may be less.

Two particular aspects of the Thai economy were studied with respect to potential impacts from these projected changes in climate effects on rice production in Ayuthaya Province and effects of sea-level rise in Suratthani Province.

The CERES model was run for a 25 year set of daily climate variables (19641988). Model outputs for the current climate substantially exceeded observed values for transplanted rice and were lower than expected for yields of direct seeded rice. It was not possible, however, to conduct an adequate validation of the model and to re-tune it to observed data for Thailand. As a result, the consequences should be treated with caution.

The results indicate that under a change of climate projected for a doubling of CO2 main crop rice cultivation in Ayuthaya Province would increase in the order of 8 per cent. These benefits would, however, be, in most cases, quite marginal because they are substantially less than the existing year-to-year variation. The modelled yields were also characterized by marginally greater yield variations. Off season rice, planted from mid-December to early February, exhibits a 5 per cent increase in average yield under the GISS 2 x CO2 climate with concurrent increases in variation of 3-40 per cent. However, little value can be placed on these results because of lack of model validation. Indeed the results are not consistent with those for Chiang Mai which were validated against observed data, and which indicate a decrease in rice yield of about 5 per cent under the GISS 2 x CO2 scenario.

Thailand has approximately 2940 km of coastline, much of which contains important economic activities such as shrimp farming and rice farming. The study considered the potential impact of a 0.5 m and 1 m rise of sea levels in the Suratthani Province in southern Thailand. This region is characterized by a sand dune line which may mark an ancient shoreline and has a consistent elevation about 1 m above present sea level. It was therefore used as an indicative boundary to the area potentially affected by a 1 m sea level rise. The suggestion is that 7400 ha (37 per cents of the study area would be affected by inundation under a 1 m sea level rise. About 4200 ha of productive agricultural land and large numbers of shrimp ponds would be lost.

Excerpt from M Parry, A Magalhaes, Nguyen H Ninh, The Potential Socio-Economic Effects of Climate Change, A Summary of Three Regional Assessments, UN Environment Programme, Nairobi, 1991, p 19.


 

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WRI (World Resources Institute). World Resources, 1990-9 l. Oxford University Press. New York. 1990


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