April 22, 2009 / 10:39 AM / 10 years ago

Bangkok beats London in carbon pollution

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Residents of the Thai capital produce as much carbon pollution as New Yorkers and more than Londoners, a U.N.-backed study released on Wednesday shows.

A man walks past cars during rush-hour traffic in Bangkok on May 4, 2007. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

The report, “Bangkok: Assessment Report on Climate Change 2009,” underscores the city’s carbon-intensive habits but also highlights the threat to Bangkok from rising seas caused by global warming.

“In per-capita terms, Bangkok was responsible for producing 7.1 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per annum in 2007,” said the report by the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority and the Bangkok-based Green Leaf Foundation, with support from the United Nations Environment Program.

That was the same level of emissions produced by New Yorkers in 2007. Londoners produced 5.9 tons per capita.

Transport and electricity generation were the main sources of greenhouse gases in Bangkok, the report said.

The paper based its calculations on the city’s official population of six million but up to twice that number are believed to live in the city, many of them seasonal workers from the countryside.

Low-lying Bangkok is near the mouth of the Chao Phraya River and is already prone to flooding. In future, more days above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) were expected, along with a jump in cases of malaria and other diseases, the report said.

The maximum forecast temperature in Bangkok on Wednesday is 38 deg C, the Thai Meteorological Department said.

“The impacts of greenhouse gas emissions and the resulting climate change on Bangkok are likely to be quite severe,” said the report.

It said just over half the city would be affected by floods if the mean sea level were to rise by 50 centimeters (20 inches), and 72 per cent of the city would be affected if the mean sea level were to rise by one meter.

Land subsidence caused by over-pumping of ground water was already a major problem, along with contamination of water supplies, and both were expected to get worse as the city’s population grows, it added.

The city’s administration has launched a campaign to cut emissions by 15 percent by 2012 by expanding mass transit, promote renewable energy, expand parklands and improve energy efficiency.

Reporting by David Fogarty; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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