Experts warn of greenwashing in Thailand's Bio-Circular-Green model


A wind farm in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand. (Photo: Unsplash)

The Thai government's green energy project has sparked concerns about agricultural land justice, with some villagers protesting forced land acquisition. Additionally, experts have criticized the significant disparity between environmental assessments and the actual situation, leading to widespread public criticism of the government's greenwashing practices.

Several non-governmental organizations, including Greenpeace Thailand, along with researchers from Sakon Nakhon Rajabhat University, held an exhibition and forum on Mar. 2, focusing on land issues affecting villagers in Kham Pa Lai village, Mukdahan province.

In 2021, the Thai government passed the "Bio-Circular-Green, BCG" policy aimed at mitigating the impacts of climate change and achieving sustainable development goals. However, allegations have arisen against 555 Green Energy, the company responsible for developing wind power in Kham Pa Lai village, accusing them of illegally acquiring land.

Kham Pa Lai village leader Samai Panthakote expressed, "they claim that the wind power project will help reduce carbon emissions, but this area already has dense forests that absorb carbon. Moreover, there are sufficient water resources to supply multiple villages. If they come to occupy our land, how will we survive?"

Professor Kitima Khunthong, a researcher at Sakon Nakhon Rajabhat University, stated that the government's acquisition of land from residents of Kham Pa Lai village without providing any compensation has not only made them poorer but also had a negative psychological impact.

Kitima pointed out that while the Thai government claims the area is degraded forestland, the actual situation is different. Moreover, the region is abundant in water resources. Therefore, she argues that the project is essentially greenwashing.

Community forestry expert Surin Onprom, who has previously taught at Kasetsart University's Faculty of Forestry, emphasized that he has personally visited the area twice and found no signs of degradation as claimed by the government. He pointed out that the government solely relies on the quantity of trees as a measure of degradation, disregarding the forest's crucial role as a significant watershed.

Romchat Wachirarattanakornkul, the Southeast Asia Regional Environment and Climate Change Officer of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), stated that the obligations under climate change conventions have evolved into human rights violations. Many other experts present also agreed, acknowledging that carbon trading markets have led to a proliferation of human rights abuses and have become a new form of colonialism. Carbon credits have also become a risk for companies engaging in greenwashing. Moreover, there is growing concern that the public finds it difficult to access relevant information.

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