Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Thailand
Overview of greenhouse gases and emissions per capita in Thailand. Are they prepared to meet net zero targets and invest in the energy transition?
Published:
Loading reading time...
Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Thailand
Overview of greenhouse gases and emissions per capita in Thailand. Are they prepared to meet net zero targets and invest in the energy transition?
Published:
Loading reading time...
Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Thailand
Overview of greenhouse gases and emissions per capita in Thailand. Are they prepared to meet net zero targets and invest in the energy transition?
Reviewed by
Published:
Loading reading time...

What percentage of global greenhouse gas emissions does Thailand produce?

Thailand produced 0.97% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 (the latest date with complete emissions data). This amounted to 434m metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, or MtCO₂e. These emissions represented an increase from 2019 by 0.4%.

In the period from 1990 to 2020 their emissions have increased by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.4% and Thailand has contributed 0.83% of global greenhouse emissions.

CountryThailand
Population70m
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in USD$506bn
Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2020434m
Change in Emissions since 20190.4%
Percentage of Total Emissions (2020)0.97%
Rank – Emitters in 202019
Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions since 19909.64bn
Compound Annual Growth – Emissions since 19903.4%
Percentage of Total Emissions (1990-2020)0.83%
GDP Per Capita (USD)$7.23k
Emissions Per Capita6.2

In 2020, Thailand was the world’s 19th largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions. The largest emitters in the same period were China, the United States, India, Russia and Japan.

Emissions per capita in Thailand – average household carbon footprint

The population of Thailand is 70m. On a per capita basis, they produce 6.2 tonnes of CO2e per person, placing them 64th out of 191 on emissions produced per capita. The biggest per capita emitters are Qatar, Turkmenistan, Kuwait and Bahrain.

What is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Thailand?

Gases

61.2% of emissions in Thailand came from Carbon Dioxide (CO2), 17.5% came from Methane (CH4), and 4.8% came from Nitrous Oxide (N2O).

Sectors

The sector that produced the most emissions in 2020 was the energy industry, producing 259m of GHG emissions, constituting 59.8% of total.

The second and third largest emitting sectors were industrial processes and agriculture, producing 21.6% and 15.6% of total GHG in Thailand.

Energy

The industry that produced the most energy related emissions was the electricity/heat industry, producing 102m of GHG emissions, constituting 23.6% of total emissions.

The second and third largest emitting sectors were transportation and manufacturing/construction, emitting 75.4m and 56m tonnes of GHG each.

Land Use Change and Forestry

Land use change and forestry (LUCF), such as deforestation and conversion of natural ecosystems to agricultural or urban areas, can have a significant impact on carbon emissions.

  • Trees and other vegetation absorb and store carbon through the process of photosynthesis, and when they are cut down or burned, that stored carbon is released into the atmosphere.
  • Deforestation and other forms of land use change can also reduce the ability of ecosystems to absorb and store carbon in the future. Additionally, the conversion of land for agriculture or urban development can lead to the release of carbon stored in the soil.
  • On the other hand, sustainable forestry practices, such as reforestation and afforestation, can help to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in trees and other vegetation.

In the case of Thailand, LUCF had a negative impact on Thailand’s emissions, increasing their carbon footprint by 17.6m tonnes.

After accounting for land use change and forestry, the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions in Thailand in 2020 was 451m metric tonnes.

How vulnerable is Thailand to the impact of climate change?

The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN) Index

The ND-GAIN Index measures countries’ vulnerability to global challenges, including climate change, and their readiness to improve resilience.

Thailand scores 52.3 on the ND-Gain Index and is classified in the ‘high vulnerability and high readiness’ category of climate change preparedness.

The index aims to assist businesses, governments, and communities in prioritising investments for a more efficient response to global shifts.

It is measured by combining two main components:

  1. Vulnerability: This evaluates a country’s vulnerability to environmental risks and its ability to adapt. It considers health, food and water availability, infrastructure, and ecosystem services. A higher score indicates greater vulnerability to environmental challenges.
  2. Readiness: This measures how well a country can leverage investments to mitigate climate change. It considers economic stability, governance, technology, and infrastructure. A higher score means a country is better prepared to implement resilience strategies.

This ranking helps identify areas where resources and adaptation strategies can be most effectively directed to mitigate risks and enhance resilience.

By combining these dimensions, the index provides a comprehensive approach to measuring countries’ ability to cope with the impacts of climate change.

High vulnerability and high readiness in Thailand

In terms of readiness to adapt to climate change, Thailand ranks in the below average group. Globally, the average readiness score is 0.424, with Thailand posting a score of 0.483.

They show the greatest strength in economic aspects, while their performance in social aspects requires improvement.

  • Economic readiness refers to the business environment and its capacity to adapt to climate change, emphasizing the importance of a supportive regulatory framework for adaptation initiatives.
  • Social readiness refers to the societal factors like inequality, education, and technology infrastructure that affect a country’s ability to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Regarding vulnerability to climate change, Thailand falls into the above average category. Compared to the global average vulnerability score of 0.431, Thailand has a score of 0.437.

Their resilience is most notable in habitat areas, yet they face significant challenges in ecosystems.

  • Human habitat refers to the growth of cities and their capacity to withstand climate change impacts like floods and heatwaves. Improved infrastructure enhances urban resilience to extreme weather events.
  • Ecosystem services refers to the natural capital and resources foundational to economies and societies. Climate change-induced shifts in geoclimes stress ecosystems, highlighting the need for adaptive responses.

The formula to calculate the ND-GAIN Index is

GAIN Index=(Readiness Indicators−Vulnerability Indicators+1)×50GAIN Index=(Readiness Indicators−Vulnerability Indicators+1)×50

In this formula:

  • The Readiness Indicators are measured on a scale of 0 to 1, where a higher score means that the readiness is better.
  • The Vulnerability Indicators are also measured on a scale of 0 to 1, but a lower score indicates better vulnerability in this case. 
  • The difference between the Readiness and Vulnerability scores is calculated and then incremented by 1. 
  • Finally, the result is multiplied by 50 to convert the GAIN Index score to a range of 0-100, where a higher score means the situation is better.

Is there a correlation between greenhouse gas emissions and economic growth in Thailand?

In 2020, the gross domestic product (GDP) in Thailand declined by -8.2% from the previous year, with the economy moving from $544bn to $500bn. During the same period, carbon emissions increased by 0.38%. Over the ten-year period from 2010 to 2020, GDP grew 46.5%, while emissions increased by 20.1%.

To put this into context, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of GDP in Thailand over the past ten years was 3.9%, and the CAGR for greenhouse gas emissions was 1.8%.

Sources

World Resources Institute, 2022. Climate Watch Historical GHG Emissions. [online] Washington, DC. Available at: https://www.climatewatchdata.org/ghg-emissions.

Global Carbon Project, 2023. Supplemental data of Global Carbon Budget 2023 (Version 1.1) [Data set]. Global Carbon Project. Available at: https://doi.org/10.18160/gcp-2023.

UNFCCC, 2023. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Data. [online] Available at: https://di.unfccc.int.

Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative, 2023. ND-GAIN Country Index. [online] Available at: https://gain.nd.edu.

FAO, 2022. Land-Use Change and Forestry or Agriculture indicators from FAOSTAT Emissions Database. [online] Available at: https://www.fao.org/faostat/.

OECD/IEA, 2022. CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion. [online] Available at: https://www.iea.org/reports/co2-emissions-in-2022.

Leave a comment