While a move is still a long way from being adopted as policy, it would not be unprecedented in the region.

Indonesia will inaugurate this year its new capital Nusantara, which will replace sinking and polluted Jakarta as the country’s political centre.

The mammoth move has been controversial and extremely expensive, with an estimated price tag of US$32 billion to US$35 billion.

Thailand is suffering the effects of climate change across a range of sectors, from farmers struggling with heat and drought to tourism businesses affected by coral bleaching and pollution.

It has closed several national parks in response to recent coral bleaching and Pavich said further closures were possible.

“We have to save our nature, so we think that we will do any measure to protect our resources,” he said.

However, Pavich acknowledged that government efforts to tackle the growing problem of air pollution, particularly in Thailand’s north, had yet to bear fruit.

The Cabinet approved a Bill focused on clean air this year, and Pavich said national parks officials had stepped up efforts to prevent and put out fires in protected areas.

“The agriculture sector is very challenging for us,” he said, referring to continued post-harvest burning that is a major contributor to seasonal haze. An improvement is not likely for several years.

More immediately, his department – part of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment – is pushing Thailand’s first climate change legislation, which has been in the works since at least 2019 but was shelved during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pavich said the legislation, which includes provisions on everything from carbon pricing to mitigation and adaptation measures, is likely to pass into law this year.

Thailand is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050, and to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2065.


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