In efforts to foster a transition towards a low-carbon and prevent its adverse impacts, Thailand is piloting a system to monitor, quantify and assess greenhouse gas emissions for agricultural sector, staring from rice cultivation.
The measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) system has a key function to enhance monitoring transparency by tracking greenhouse gas emissions at national level, the mitigation impacts as well as the climate finance flows. These transparency approaches increase comparability between domestic and international levels. However, there are still some challenges in establishing the MRV system which are the ambiguity of the content requirement of monitoring plans, the limitations of information technology and the lack of harmonization and consistency in reporting guidelines.
Thailand is one among 195 parties that adopted the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) with the aims of keeping a global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius and shifting to zero-carbon economy.
Under the UNFCCC, each country is required to conduct MRV system in line with their own Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The MRV system is considered the most advanced reporting programme that many countries use in keeping track of greenhouse gas levels.
According to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (2019), the rice cultivation areas in Thailand cover 11,265 million hectares, accounting for approximately 50 percent of Thailand’s total agricultural area. Although rice systems in Thailand generate massive export revenue, rice farming is known to be a major contributor to climate change as it has been identified as a source of GHG.
Based on the 2nd Biennial Update Report (BUR) of Thailand published in 2018, nearly 55 percent of the overall emission of agriculture sector was generated by rice farming in Thailand, the largest amount of GHG emission.
One of the main objectives of the Thai-German Climate Programme – Agriculture (TGCP-Agriculture) Project under the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Natural Conservation and Nuclear Safety is to develop the MRV system for Thailand’s rice sector by designing and integrating with the implementation of the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) Standard on Sustainable Rice Cultivation within the local context.
Regarding the MRV system for GHG inventories in National Communication (NC) and the BUR summitted to the UNFCCC, the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) has published the MRV Manual for Agriculture Sector in 2017.
Based on the manual, all activity data and supplementary information are collected through the MRV system by the Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE), which is the coordination center of agriculture sector. Then, the data will be transferred to Thailand’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory System (TGEIS) by ONEP for the assessment of national GHG emissions.
Last year, the Rice Department with the supports from TGCP – Agriculture Project organized a workshop on developing a rice MRV system for Thailand in Bangkok. The key topics included an overview of GHG inventories for the National Communication and the BUR, an assessment of MRV system for rice cultivation, tools for calculating GHG emissions for rice cultivation and recommended scenarios for mitigation actions.
By cooperating with Thai Rice NAMA Project, which aims to encourage small-scale farmers to implement low-emission rice farming, TGCP – Agriculture Project will press ahead with an integration of the MRV system for CAPSAS area, referring to six provinces in the central plains – Chainat, Ang Thong, Prathum Thani, Suphan Buri, Ayutthaya and Sing Buri – into the national MRV system.