Traidhos public forum

Not Just Blowing Smoke in ASEAN:
How can creativity break through the climate change challenge?

Traidhos Three-Generation Community for Learning and Chiang Mai University Centre for ASEAN Studies hosted a public panel featuring Paula Di Perna, visiting writer and climate policy expert with Traidhos Artist Residency Thailand. The forum aimed at generating debate on climate change and how to ‘price the priceless’ in local and global contexts.

Paula challenged panellists and participants to think about carbon markets as a way to establish price and value to the atmosphere, which would in turn lead to less pollution fouling the atmosphere and causing smog and climate change. The Convention on Climate Change provides a framework for such carbon markets on a global basis, but a dilemma is always how to set a price. DiPerna presented different scenarios about how to address this paradox as well as example of the growing “sustainable investment” movement, where investors increasingly are making investment decisions based on whether a company has a laudable record on environmental awareness and performance, screening out those that do not.

Thai panellists presented an example of how, on the other hand, pricing carbon in Thailand has had the unintended effect of penalising poor Thai farmers for deforestation rather than incentivizing them to avoid deforestation, the intent of carbon markets. Some audience members felt that throughout Southeast Asia, indigenous communities more often pay the price than receive benefits. This presents one of many dilemmas to the global effort to find solutions for climate change.

How can we make a difference? One place to start is to use localised carbon footprint calculations to measure individual impact so as to better understand how to prioritize where reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, otherwise known as “carbon” should be made. Communities, neighbourhoods and even schools can then make informed decisions about how to reduce carbon use, and such individual changes can generate broader environmental benefit for all. 

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