Late Sunday morning, Penchom Tang and Kingkorn Narinthon Na Ayutthaya- Thai Working Group for Climate Justice colleagues ask me to assist in transporting Thai community leaders to Climate Justice Now’s “Hit the Production” action. As the global shipping industry is at the heart of capitalism, a key symbol of an industrial System based on growth and the use of fossil fuels, the “Hit the Production” action will target the harbour with a mass blockade.
“Sure,” I replied.
Later, the plan is abandoned because it is too dangerous, and arrests of Thai community members are possible. Furthermore, none of them are capable of preparing to be outside in extremely cold weather. Thai community leaders will then meet with Thailand’s Environment Minister, Khun Suvit Khunkitti, who is already in town before Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva arrives.
Thai civil society representatives met with PM Abhisit in Bangkok previously and have already submitted recommendations on the Thai Government’s positions toward the Copenhagen climate summit, as well as related national policy formulation. The truth is that the outcome of the Copenhagen climate change negotiations will increase the burden on Thailand, Thai citizens, and the community to deal with the climate crisis that is already occurring due to ill-advised policy.
Our meeting place is the Klima Forum. I walk to the Marriott Hotel, where the Environment Minister is staying, with 7 community leaders from the Northern, Eastern, North-eastern, Central, and Southern parts of Thailand, as well as 5 Thai activists. We greet and communicate with him in the hotel lobby. The main topic of discussion has been the Thai government’s position in relation to the outcome of the negotiations here in Copenhagen.
“We are aware that our recommendation paper will not be recognised, despite the fact that it has already been delivered directly to the Prime Minister. To ensure that our voices are heard, it was a good idea to contact Khun Suvit, and it would be even better if we could meet with PM Abhisit here,” said a Thai community leaders.
According to the summary outcome of the Thai Cabinet meeting on mitigation on the 10th of November 2009, Thailand is standing for 1) “legally binding commitment” for developed countries based on economic-wide reduction commitment for second commitment period (2013-1017) and by 2020 taking into account historical responsibility, national capacity in measurable, reportable, and verifiable manner. 2) “Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action” for developing countries on a voluntary basis, with financial flow, technology transfer, and capacity building supported by developed countries.
Thailand has clearly expressed a desire to keep the spirit of Kyoto alive. However, it is a big question mark because negotiations are moving slowly and some controversies are being raised here in Copenhagen, such as proposals to allow money from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to be used for nuclear power and carbon capture and storage (CCS). These controversies persisted even among the G77 group.
According to the Thai Negotiating Team, some delegates are from industry (the Federation of Thai Industry and the Thai Petroleum Authority), and civil society has frequently raised the issue of participatory process in this regard. How does Thailand’s industry fit in? How about the civil society? The answer we have is that because industry is a key stakeholder, they must play a key role in climate negotiations.
Isn’t it true that all multilateral environmental agreement negotiations should be for the benefit of the entire country and its people, not for corporate greed?
At COP15, I learn how the negotiation process works and how important civil society participation in all aspects is in keeping our own government and politicians on track. The more open the debate over climate change becomes among ordinary Thais, the better the Thai negotiating team will be able to deliver in a more transparent and democratic manner.
The beginning of the second week of negotiations reveals that a large number of INGOs/NGOs will be denied access to the Bella Center. Several thousand NGOs and civil society members are viewed as too disruptive to the UNFCCC negotiation process.
Following the withdrawal of developing countries led by the African group, word spread throughout the centre. Combined with a suspension imposed by the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, which insists on full debate of proposals to amend the UN Climate Convention and the Kyoto Protocol.
“It has become clear that the Danish presidency is advancing developed-country interests at the expense of the balance of obligations between developed and developing countries. According to BBC news, “the mistake they are making now has reached levels that cannot be tolerated from a president who is supposed to be acting and shepherding the process on behalf of all parties.”
I pass through the area where Environment Minister Suvit Khunkitti is standing with the rest of his team and am greeted by one of his advisors. According to a Thai NGOs activists, he is also walking out and supporting the African group’s position.
This is supposed to be my last bit to track the Thai negotiating team from within. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to get the second badge. I speak with Yuyun Greenpeace’s Southeast Asian political team, and he smiles, “I am more than happy not to get the second badge, I want to get out of here!!!”