Buckle up, Bangkok: Thai official floats capital relocation amid rising sea

Image by Wiroj Sidhisoradej on Freepik

A senior Thai official yesterday raised the alarming possibility that Thailand may need to consider relocating its capital city Bangkok due to the threat posed by rising sea levels caused by climate change. The bustling metropolis of the capital already grapples with severe flooding during the rainy season each year.

Deputy Director-General of Thailand’s Department of Climate Change and Environment Pavich Kesavawong, warned that the low-lying city risks being submerged by the ocean before the end of the century.

Pavich expressed concerns that the world is already beyond the critical threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius of global temperature rise compared to pre-industrial levels, suggesting that an adaptation strategy is crucial.

Discussions are underway to explore potential adaptation measures, including the construction of dikes similar to those in the Netherlands.

However, he acknowledged that the possibility of relocating the capital has also been contemplated, although such deliberations are still hypothetical and highly complex.

“Personally, I think it’s a good choice, so we can separate the capital, the government areas, and business areas,” Pavich said.

Suggesting that perhaps Bangkok could remain the government capital while the business hub could be moved elsewhere.

The idea of relocating a capital city is not entirely foreign in the region, Indonesia is set to inaugurate its new capital, Nusantara this year, replacing the sinking and polluted Jakarta as the country’s political centre, albeit at a staggering cost estimated at US$35 billion (1.3 trillion baht).

Thailand is experiencing the effects of climate change across various sectors, from agriculture to tourism.

The country has closed several national parks in response to recent coral bleaching, and Pavich warned that further closures might be necessary to protect natural resources.

While Thailand has recently passed legislation focused on clean air and has stepped up efforts to prevent and extinguish fires in protected areas, Pavich acknowledged that the government’s efforts to tackle air pollution, particularly in the northern regions, have yet to yield tangible results.

The Thai government is currently pushing for its first climate change legislation, which has been in the works since at least 2019 but was shelved during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The legislation encompasses provisions on carbon pricing, mitigation, and adaptation measures. Thailand aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and net-zero emissions by 2065, reported Japan Times.

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Ryan Turner

Ryan is a journalism student from Mahidol University with a passion for history, writing and delivering news content with a rich storytelling narrative.

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