This working paper summarizes the results of scoping research conducted by WRI and its partners to assess capacity needs in six countries—Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, India, South Africa, and Thailand—related to greenhouse gas (GHG) measurement and performance tracking. The paper also identifies...
The authors discuss how energy stakeholders from utilities to government officials to consumers can learn from the Thai Solar PV Roadmap Initiative (TSRI), an initiative that aims to provide the Thai government with recommendations on how to both effectively and inclusively pursue greater solar power development.
Electricity production is central to climate change as it accounts for 20 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Too often, electricity decisions are made through closed processes with little scrutiny.
WRI’s Electricity Governance Initiative (EGI) is a civil society partnership promoting better governance in the electricity sector. Transparent, accountable, and a participatory decision-making processes will, in time, produce better decisions. When Thailand was privatizing its power utility, a report by in-country partners using the WGI toolkit highlighted the lack of a strong regulatory body to balance the interests of the public against those of a private power utility. The Thai courts halted the privatization, referencing our analysis that the privatization did not prevent abuses of power.
For eight years, WRI and 160 partners in 40 countries have been working to open
up the channels of information on environmental decision-making. This effort –
The Access Initiative – is the largest global action network dedicated to ensuring
that people have the right and the ability to influence decisions about the natural
resources on which their communities depend.
How does it work? Coalitions of civil society groups assess the state of access to
information, public participation, and justice in their nation. Gaps in laws,
institutions, and practices are identified. The coalitions then engage their
government in a dialogue and develop campaigns to bring about reform.
It isn’t easy, especially in Southeast Asia where leaders have long kept
political control through information control. Eight years of work by
The Access Initiative, however, came to fruition recently when Indonesia
enacted a new Freedom of Information Act. The Access Initiative also
played a strong role in ensuring Thailand’s new constitution enshrines the
right of the public to have information about new development projects
that affect the environment and to participate in decisions concerning such
projects. Rights to remedies are provided when the government acts in
breach of these provisions.
Worldwide, one out of every five people lacks access to modern electricity. Affordability, quality of service, and social and environmental impacts pose great challenges in providing people with the power they need for lighting, cooking, and other activities. Good governance involving open and inclusive practices is essential to overcoming these pressing obstacles.
The situation worsened in 2003, when Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra set forth a plan to restructure Thailand’s electricity sector and privatize EGAT. Rather than improving Thailand’s electricity sector in the public interest, the plan for privatization was designed to increase capital for powerful stakeholders and upper management employees. It called to maintain EGAT’s unregulated monopoly in order to maximize profits, even at the expense of public needs and environmental vulnerabilities.
Thailand’s electricity sector seemed poised to worsen--until civil society groups stepped in.
Increased industrialization in Asia has created countless hurdles for communities to protect themselves from pollution. Important government information—such as the amount of pollutants being discharged by nearby factories or results from local air and water quality monitoring—still isn’t readily accessible in user-friendly formats. This practice often leaves the public entirely out of decision-making processes on issues like regulating pollution or expanding industrial factories. In many cases, the public lack the information they need to understand and shield themselves from harmful environmental, social, and health impacts.
This state of affairs recently prompted a group of government officials, NGOs, local community representatives, and academics to demand government action to change the status quo. Last week, representatives from China, Indonesia, Japan, Mongolia, the Philippines, and Thailand released the Jakarta Declaration for Strengthening the Right to Environmental Information for People and the Environment. The Declaration urges governments to improve access to information on air and water quality pollution in Asia—and offers a detailed road map on how to do so.