Advocacy

Race to Zero Emissions


Can the world achieve zero emissions by 2050?

When talking about tackling the issues of global climate change, the world apparently still has a long way to go. However, the good news is, our understanding of the scale of risks posed by climate change are much better developed and supported by seriously tested and globally accepted evidence. Climate change is happening because of humans, from releasing excessive amounts of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, increased use of fossil fuels, deforestation and much more. Governments need to start taking action now to put us on a pathway to achieve zero net emissions globally. Therefore, several countries have introduced targets to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and that includes The Biden Administration Aims for Zero Emissions by 2050 according to the New York Times. 

We have gathered a few expert opinions from our Future Listers, namely Athip Tantivorawong of the energy disruptive innovation department within the PTT Group, and researcher Dr Thanyaporn Wongnate of VISTEC, and here are their thoughts.

Dr Thanyaporn Wongnate

What is the importance to achieving zero emissions for the environment?

A basic feature to achieving zero emissions in my opinion is to have energy efficient operation systems. Moreover, the renewable energy systems are also essential to achieving this goal. 

How can Thailand move towards zero emissions and what approach do you suggest to cut emissions to zero for the future?

Public policies will play an important role in achieving this goal. Their goals might be to foster energy independence, decrease oil consumption, and preserve cost competitiveness. The characteristic of these effective public policies needs to be strong and continuous political support. The move to bioenergy is also another attempt to reduce oil consumption. In particular, the introduction of a carbon tax might be effective in the building and power sectors because alternative technologies were available.

Do you think Thailand should set a target for zero emissions and when should that be?

Thailand should set a target for zero emissions between 2050-2070. 

Athip Tantivorawong

What is the importance to achieving zero emissions for the environment?

From satellite images, we can see that half of the ice on the North Pole has melted away in over a year.  Lakes in India have dried up and are left with just salt particles.  Floods in numerous countries across continents have become more abrupt and severe.  These are all the results of global warming partly caused by the greenhouse gases.  By achieving zero emissions, we would see zero greenhouse gases and less contributions to the catastrophes mentioned.  However, this issue is a global agenda and needs integration from all sectors. 

How can Thailand move towards zero emissions and what approach do you suggest to cut emissions to zero for the future?

Thailand has laid its economic foundation and infrastructures based on our main natural resource which is gas.  We can see gas pipelines across our countries, the bulk of our energy generation is gas-fired, our petrochemical industry which is one of the most advanced in the region is also hydro carbon based.  How can Thailand move towards zero emission? “Gradually” would be the realistic answer.  In recent years, we start to see less expensive solar PV and, as a result, more deployment of solar power.  However, due to its nature of renewable powers - they are mostly unpredictable and sometimes unreliable.  For example, during the rainy season, the sun does not come out as often which means less solar power generated from PV.  Therefore, there are 2 issues that need to be improved before a more widespread usage of renewable energy is possible. 

1. Continue to reduce costs of PV to be able to compete with other conventional power. This initially needed to be done by technology advancement and followed by mass deployment of PV which results in a better economy of scale.  

2. Advancement of technologies that help enhance the reliability of renewable energy such as energy storage.  However, these technologies are still pricey today making it infeasible when compared to conventional energy. 

Do you think Thailand should set a target for zero emissions and when should that be?

I think a zero emission goal for Thailand is possible but not in the near future.  We have invested billions of dollars in setting up infrastructures to use gas which can be found in our country.  Additionally, gas provides reliability and security of power to our country.  Therefore, I see gas will continue to be the base generation for Thailand.  However, what Thailand can do is to increase the portion of green energy.  For additional demands, we can focus on using solar energy.  We can diverge gas to create higher value added products such as pet chem.  Fortunately, Thailand has abundant sunshine most of the year and PV is now competitive towards conventional energy.  We can start with more solar energy usage in our country. Once the energy storage price comes down, we would see mass deployment of PV and that would be the tipping points towards zero emission.