Thailand Farmers Fight Global Warming Fines

by Admin on August 7, 2012

Photo by Danumurthi Mahendra

In 2006, farmers in the Baan Pra village of Thailand’s southern Trang province were fined by the government and ordered to vacate their lands for “contributing to global warming .”

Last month, after suffering bankruptcy and loss of land, appealed to an administrative court, the farmers pleaded against a formula used by the department of national park, wildlife, and plant conservation under the environment ministry to compute the fines and evict them.

Ever since the environment ministry began enforcing the 1992 National Quality Act five years ago other farmers near national forests have been facing financial problems. The law prohibits “destruction, loss or damage to natural resources owned by the state.”

According to the Land Reform Network (LRN), approximately 2,000 small farmers have been fiend for causing global warming nationwide.

In 2004, the environment ministry announced intentions to use a formula to determine economic los from global warming by forest encroachment and compute fines. Many cases farmers watched their crops being cut down by officials claiming they were doing this to preserve national forests.

The ministry’s formula claims to measure environmental damage under several categories such as increase in temperature caused by cutting down trees, loss of soil through erosion, and decrease in rainfall.

The formula can be comparable to Agenda 21  , a treaty geared toward green initiatives and sustainable living. However, this has also caused controversy due to the restrictions it places on countries that adopt the treaty. Similar to the Thailand formula, Agenda 21 recommends taking land areas and turning them into preserved zones and limiting private land ownership.

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in 2000, industry and energy production in Thailand accounted for approximately 75 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions while the agricultural sector was responsible for only 22 percent.

Critics of the formula are questioning why small-scale farmers are being targeted. Even Pongsak Wittawarchutikul, the man who came up with the formula, has admitted that parts of it need to be adjusted and made more accurate.

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