June 16, 2023
BANGKOK – Move Forward leader and prospective prime minister Pita Limjaroenrat on Thursday said he will propose Chiang Mai as the location of a new Asean pollution centre to tackle PM2.5 and other types of air pollution in the northern region.
“The Asean community signed Trans Boundary Pollution Cooperation Agreement in 2004, but so far no nation has implemented a concrete project,” Pita said during a meeting with tourism entrepreneurs and civil society in Chiang Mai on Thursday.
“When I become the next prime minister, I will propose to Asean to establish the Pollution Centre here in Chiang Mai as part of [several] proactive measures to tackle air pollution,” he said, adding that because the centre will be established on the 2004 agreement it will not require additional approval from Asean leaders.
Pita also told participants that a Move Forward-led government would work at the international, national and community levels to effectively handle PM2.5, which refers to fine dust particles that are 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter. Long-term exposure to PM2.5 is linked to chronic diseases, including lung and heart problems.
“Fine dust has cost the economy in Chiang Mai billions of baht, but the current budget allocated for the issue is only hundreds of millions of baht,” said Pita, adding that because the budget was too small the problem had not been solved.
Besides allocating a suitable budget for PM2.5, his government will also push for amending relevant laws and enacting a Clean Air Act that will establish a clear structure for agencies responsible for dealing with air pollution, Pita said.
“The Act will help us prioritise problems, track progress of operations, and promote bilateral and multilateral cooperation with neighbouring countries,” he added.
The Move Forward leader also said he would tap into Asean’s Trans-Boundary Pollution Control Fund to support the operation of the air pollution centre in Chiang Mai, saying the fund was just “sitting there unused as those in power failed to see the bigger picture”.