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Thailand puts cross-border air pollution on agenda for upcoming ASEAN summit

Chiang Mai smog. PHOTO: Flickr/Andrew and Annemarie

Thailand’s Foreign Minister says the issue of the cross-border haze currently plaguing much of the North will be discussed at an ASEAN summit next month. Don Pramudwinai was speaking ahead of the 42nd ASEAN Summit, which Indonesia will chair at Labuan Bajo, Nusa Tenggara Timur, from May 9 – 11.

The Bangkok Post reports that Don has confirmed the issue of cross-border air pollution will be on the agenda. His comments follow a virtual meeting attended by the leaders of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos last week, during which the matter was also discussed. Don has described that meeting, which was hosted by Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, as a positive step in addressing the issue.

The Foreign Minister was also asked about the fact that residents in northern Thailand are now calling on his ministry to work with neighbouring countries to stop the annual burning. Don says this was also discussed at last week’s online meeting and that further talks on the issue will take place soon.

According to the minister, neighbouring countries are being affected in the same way and all are eager to find a solution.

“I want to confirm we have been trying to solve the problem. It might have slowed during the pandemic, but the problem has now become more intense. Our neighbouring countries and we, ourselves, have to solve it.”

Meanwhile, the Pollution Control Department said yesterday that the worsening haze is the result of burning in forests, hotspots in neighbouring countries, and the current stagnant air. Department boss Pinsak Suraswadi says pollution levels will remain seriously high this week, particularly in the border provinces of Nan and Chiang Rai.

The Bangkok Post reports that Pinsak expects pollution levels to begin to decrease from Saturday, with weather conditions in Bangkok favourable, thanks to a strong wind from the South. However, stagnant air remains a possibility in parts of Central Thailand on Friday and Saturday.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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