Working together Berlin and Bangkok recently agreed on concrete steps for tackling climate change together Thailand plans to increase the share of renewables in its energy mix to 25 percent by 2021.

The German-Thai partnership to fight climate change has acquired political momentum: the first strategic dialogue held at the governmental level on green growth and a low-carbon econ­omy has resulted in an agreement be­tween Berlin and Bangkok to work close­ly together on these issues. The planned cooperation should also have an interna­tional impact.

While the German environment min­istry has already funded some 30 projects in Thailand since 2008 as part of its In­ternational Climate Initiative (IKI), this new agreement between the countries concentrates on strengthening political ties and advocating common strategies in multinational organisations, said German delegation leader Karsten Sach on the sidelines of the two-day dialogue meeting in Bangkok in September. Thailand is the first country in Southeast Asia with which Germany has forged a partnership at the governmental level on these issues.

"We hope that Thailand becomes ex­tremely active within ASEAN," said Ger­many's chief negotiator, who is also dep­uty director-general for international co­operation at the environment ministry. According to Sach, Thailand has chaired the climate-change working group with­in ASEAN for the past three years and is making good progress in terms of ad­vancing work on these issues.

Germany also wants to collaborate more closely with Thailand within the context of the global climate talks (UN­FCCC) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), where Sach serves as council chair.

Reports indicate that the countries in­tend to hold their strategic dialogue an­nually. The idea for the partnership de­veloped during a visit by Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in July 2012. "Combating climate change is an area of shared interest between the two countries," said Sach. In 2011, Thai­land suffered its worst floods in a cen­tury, leading to hundreds of deaths and about EUR 60 billion in economic dam­ages. This resulted in the country be­ing ranked first in the Global Climate Risk Index 2011 compiled by Germanwatch, an environmental and develop­ment NGO.

The development of a master plan on climate change is one of the major proj­ects on which Germany is advising Thai­land. Both sides have now agreed to ex­tend this collaboration beyond 2013. Other areas of cooperation will include renewable energies, energy efficiency, flood management and carbon emis­sions reduction. Sach sees Thailand's big­gest challenge as creating a legal and regulatory framework that provides incen­tives to expand renewable energies. In his view, much depends on whether the country can establish long-term investor confidence and promote the acceptance of green issues within society. With its "ambitious" plan to increase the share of renewables to 25 percent by 2021, Thai­land is heading in the right direction, Sach said, adding that the focus is now on implementation. "In addition to cli­mate change, there are lots of other in­centives, for example the huge costs asso­ciated with importing fuel," he said.

Sach is convinced that Germany can be a good partner for Thailand, but stresses that the government in Bang­kok will decide what is ultimately imple­mented. He describes German environ­ment ministry's role this way: "We want to spur on ambition."