In Thailand, air pollution endangers the health and safety of millions, the consequences of which have real costs for the economy and social services. Though the scale of the air pollution problem changes from season to season, over the past decade particulate air pollution – from vehicle and industrial emissions as well as biomass burning – has steadily become more severe. Regulatory inaction and a lack of data and understanding of the scale and impacts of the crisis have led to a situation where many do not know that the air they breathe is literally toxic.
The Thailand Clean Air Network (Thai CAN) has gathered a coalition of academics, medical professionals, legal specialists, industry experts, and community members on a multi-year campaign to build widespread understanding and awareness of the truth behind the causes of – and potential solutions to – Thailand’s air quality crisis. The goal of this campaign is to support a systems-approach to development and adoption of a Clean Air Act for Thailand that secures the right to clean air for all Thailand’s residents – no matter where in the country they call home.
One of the latest major steps in this campaign was the submission of the Draft Act on Regulating the Integrated Management of Clean Air for Health to the parliament for administrative approval on August 3, 2020. The submission was positively received by Chuan Leekpai, Chairman of the Parliament, and will be reviewed for administrative completeness before initial approval. Following the initial approval, Thai CAN and their partners, including Circular Design Lab, have begun the process of public engagement and signatory solicitation before putting the draft before parliamentary deliberation.
The submission of the Draft Act came following the release of Clean Air Blue Paper, a body of research developed by Thai CAN that details the drivers of particulate pollution nationwide as well as the impacts on the Thai economy and health and safety of the population. The Thailand CAN is following the European Union’s legislative process model to push for legislative change in Thailand, with development of three main concept papers: a White Paper providing high level information, a Blue Paper with a deep dive into the problem, and a (forthcoming) Green Paper detailing legislative options and solutions. This process is intended to ensure not only robust preparation of draft legislation but also a comprehensive public engagement process that will provide residents of Thailand a good understanding of the issues.
To enhance public awareness of this process, on Wednesday, August 19, Circular Design Lab and Thai CAN launched “From PM2.5 to Zero” Digital Roadshow with a deep dive into the cause and the science behind air pollution in Thailand. From August to December this year, the Roadshow will feature a series of events that bring together experts and active citizens from academia, law, business, civil society, the arts to engage and elevate the discussion around what it means to have the right to breathe clean air in Thailand.
The goal of this Roadshow is twofold: to raise awareness and educate, but also to inspire and catalyse actions to systematically address the challenge of air pollution. Events are organised into two tracks focused on learning (‘Inhale’) and action (‘Exhale’). The Inhale track features experts from the health, economics, and scientific communities to take a deep dive into the body of research in the Clean Air Blue Paper. Sessions in this track explore the causes and impacts of air pollution as well as viable, scalable solutions. The Exhale track is designed to further engage a wide community of stakeholders – including artists, entrepreneurs, youth and students – in understanding the possibilities for a clean air future. All sessions are free and open to the public and held in both Thai and English.
The Roadshow launched with an Inhale/learning session on the ‘Cause and the Science of Air Pollution’ On August 19. An Exhale session on August 26 featured innovators from Graviky Labs, ETRAN, and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation who are working on creative solutions to air pollution challenges – including crafting ink made from pollution filtered from the air and transitioning motorbike taxis to e-bikes. Recordings and highlights from all the sessions are available at right2cleanair.com.
Over the holiday weekend from September 4th-6th, the Circular Design Lab and Thailand Clean Air Network held a series of events in person at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, including arts workshops, a series of talks, and a booth to gather signatures in support of the draft legislation. This is the beginning of the process of gathering 10,000 signatures to support the law. Though the roadshow is largely digital, there are many opportunities for Thai citizens and visitors alike to act and show their support for the right to clean air. Further information on how to get involved is at the right2cleanair.com/take-action.
Next up in the Roadshow is an online event focused on the impacts of air pollution in Thailand on September 9, including speakers from northern, northeast, and southern regions of the country. This will be followed by a session with artists on how they are furthering the ‘creative response’ towards clean air on September 23rd. The full lineup of events and registration details can be found on the right2cleanair.com
As we celebrate the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies on September 7th, join the Circular Design Lab and Thai CAN and claim your #right2cleanair for Thailand.
“Air pollution is an abstract issue – the Roadshow is one step towards understanding where the leverage points are that we, as humans living on planet earth, can tackle this challenge.” Courtney Savie Lawrence, Circular Design Lab