EARTH Thailand

All choked up on bad air

Bangkok Post 19 February 2023 | APINYA WIPATAYOTIN 

State agencies fighting smog are hamstrung by a lack of tougher laws 

''People have a right to live in a clean environment and this is guaranteed under the constitution,'' said Penchom Saetang, director of Ecological Alert and Recovery-Thailand (EARTH Thailand).

She said the air pollution caused by PM2.5 has never been solved. ''It is a hopeless situation if the government has not set clean air policy as the priority,'' she said. 

The hazardous smog is no longer merely an environmental issue but also a problem concerning public health and the economy, she said. 

''The next government should regard the issue of haze pollution as its priority policy,'' said Ms Penchom of Earth. It should approve at least two bills related to clean air. They are a Clean Air Bill, and the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (#PRTR) bill, which would improve air quality management. 

The Clean Air Bill was drafted by the Thailand Clean Air Network (Thailand CAN) which raised 24,000.signatures in its support. The PRTR Bill, meanwhile, is driven by Earth and its alliances such as Greenpeace Southeast Asia and EnLaw. 

She said backers of the PRTR bill are collecting signatures. A minimum.of 10,000 signatories from Thai nationals is required for the citizen-driven PRTR bill to be submitted to parliament. 

She said the country lacked a database for pollutant emissions into the air, water and soil, which means authorities don't know exactly what the main source of air pollution is. 

''The PRTR bill would fix the loophole by forcing industrial operators to report pollutant emissions,'' she said.

Policies such as soft loans for helping entrepreneurs access cleaner technology to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions are also needed. 

"It is disappointing that the issue of clean air doesn't exist inpoliticians' hearts. Without dedicated action, we despair of seeing better air quality. The politicians don't realise the problem is really serious," she said. 

Read the full report: Bangkok Post 19 February 2023