Fiction

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world. This is a moment of truth for people and the planet alike. Covid and climate have brought us to a threshold and we have to move forward sustainably. The good news is that there is a lot of work being done all over the world to move towards renewable energy and Thailand has created the world’s largest solar floating farm according to news reports. The facility, which generates power on a water surface of 72 hectares, was originally scheduled for operation in December last year, but the launch was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I read an article in Thailand business news which stated that the state run Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) expects to operate a 45 megawatt floating solar farm it claims to be the largest in the world this June. EGAT signed a contract with B. Grimm Power Plc, which will serve as an engineering, procurement and construction firm to develop photovoltaic panels worth 842 million baht (28 million USD) on Sirindhorn Dam in Ubon Ratchathani, where an EGAT hydropower plant is operating. The floating solar farm is designed to be a hybrid system, working in tandem with 36MW of hydropower generation to increase optimisation capacity.

Local media quoted Chatchai Mawong, EGAT’s director for hydro and renewable energy power plant development, as saying that construction is now 82% complete. Workers began installing the first batch of floating solar panels in December 2020 and are speeding up installation. Under the 2018 National Power Development Plan, EGAT is committed to building more floating solar farms on all nine of its dams nationwide over the next 20 years, with a combined capacity of 2,725MW. It is also planning to adopt a modern energy management and energy storage systems, crucial to store electricity produced by solar panels. Mr. Sarit Witoon, Governor of Ubon Ratchathani province said, having a renewable energy pilot project that is essential for the country is an important step for Ubon Ratchathani province. The hydro-floating Solar Hybrid Project at Sirindhorn Dam will be a model project for developing renewable energy which will not only create stability for renewable energy by using hybrid energy systems, but also promote Ubon Ratchathani province to become an energy learning centre for students, scholars, and the general public. The project will also be developed into a new tourist attraction for the province to increase revenue for the community so it can become sustainably self-reliant.

After reading this article, I wanted to understand more about solar energy development plans in Thailand so I got in touch with Franck Constant, CEO of Constant Energy. Franck has over 20 years of experience working in the independent power industry and 10 years in solar PV. Prior to founding Constant Energy, Franck cofounded Sonnedix, a solar IPP in 2009 and as board member and President developed the business into a global solar IPP fund present in 8 countries, including France, UK, Japan, Thailand, South Africa, with world class development, project finance, construction and asset management capabilities. Franck moved into the power generation industry in 1995 by joining Sithe Energies Inc. in Bangkok where he worked for five years developing Sithe’s power projects and business in SE Asia. During this period, Sithe became Thailand’s leading foreign IPP, with new assets worth over $500 million. He has continued in the power generation industry since 2002., working as Director for Business Development for Sithe in Korea and subsequently for Mirant Asia-Pacific in NE Asia. In these roles, he successfully structured, financed and managed over $1 billion of greenfield power projects and acquisitions for Sithe and Mirant. Franck started an energy consulting firm in 2002 by establishing Asia Energy Resources, subsequently acquired by AWR Lloyd, an energy advisory firm in 2006, becoming a partner in AWR Lloyd till 2010, providing advisory services to oil, power and mining companies.



I asked him about the solar energy development targets for Thailand and he told me that the previous government target was 3GW by 2030, now 10GW by 2030 and they are on track to meet that. His personal view is that solar will be way above 10GW installed by 2030 in Thailand, since it is the lowest cost power source for Thailand, especially with recent 3x increase in spot LNG/gas prices globally. Franck mentioned that he believes that the clean energy disruption is gaining pace and will continue globally. He further spoke about the investment strategy and markets for Constant Energy, “Renewable energies and smart grid are the future and a global growth market with tremendous investment requirements globally over the next 20 year. The ever higher penetration of intermittent renewable energy creates the need for power storage to mitigate intermittency and offer low-cost stable and constant renewable power. Constant Energy has specialised on an area that uses sources for energy production with an absence of fuel costs/risks and whose cost have been dropping drastically among energy sources: Photovoltaics (PV), floating PV and battery storage. These investments are attractive to us, as efficiency enhancements and cost reductions are making power generation from PV and Storage increasingly more cost-efficient and competitive. They are enabling companies in Thailand to join the renewable resolution by installing solar plants for them at zero upfront cost under long-term contracts.

Strong country regulatory track record, high quality assets, long term global and local partnerships are the key factors when investing profitably in our sector. Our investment decisions are based on extensive expert analysis, existing experience and successful track record in the countries where we invest, and direct asset management. Our initial focus is on emerging Asia and Africa for utility solar PV generation investments as well as developed markets for utility battery storage investments.


If you want to know more about Constant Energy, you can get in touch with Franck Constant directly, his email is [email protected].

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As an international businessman working in Bangkok, Thailand may I make an impassioned plea for all businesses, hospitals, schools, government departments in Thailand to equip their switchboard (and indeed all staff) with a copy of the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet, commonly known as the NATO phonetic alphabet or ICAO phonetic alphabet.
 
With the greatest respect to our Thai hosts, their pronunciation of the modern English alphabet (the Latin alphabet) which consists of 26 characters is sometimes very difficult to understand.
 
If they were all issued with a copy of the guide below it would make it a lot easier for all parties.
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 I am always excited to attend events which focus on creating awareness towards a zero waste lifestyle. Ecotopia was an event organised to focus on a green community of mindful people who believe that they can create a better world. Events like this are a reminder that there are many eco conscious entrepreneurs in Bangkok who are eager to mitigate climate change and we as consumers must support them. The money we spend is a vote for the kind of world we want to live in so we must ensure we buy products which are not harmful to the planet and the animals which coexist with us. Human action or inaction will determine the future of our planet.

The event was extremely well organised and I loved all the different booths they had focusing on different aspects of sustainable living. I particularly enjoyed meeting a farmer who showed me a prototype of a kitchen waste composting machine, he had different sizes. I had an idea about the importance of composting kitchen waste but I have always struggled to do it properly so it was interesting to learn things which seem so basic but we have all forgotten.

There was a booth for upcycling plastic, It was interesting to watch the artistic process. Precious Plastic Bangkok which focuses on recycling plastic bottle tops into something useful was also present at the event. I really love the colourful flower pots they make from waste plastic, it would be amazing if more entrepreneurs can find solutions to recycle all the plastic which is lying in our oceans and threatening marine life and destroying our planet.

The booth I really enjoyed was the one set up by Fashion Revolution Thailand to make masks from natural dyes using various methods of tie and dye. I made my own mask and dyed it in natural indigo. Chemical dyes used by fast fashion are polluting our water bodies and the idea behind this booth was to create awareness for people about natural dyes and to be mindful in consuming fast fashion.

My biggest concern is can such events become mainstream? Can eco conscious brands make their prices affordable? I have spoken about this to a few brands and they tell me that prices will come down once demand goes up and those of us who can afford to support these brands must continue to spread awareness and hopefully we can collectively solve the issue and cocreate a better tomorrow for the future generations.

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by  Daniel Goleman and  Richard E. Boyatzis

Esther is a well-liked manager of a small team. Kind and respectful, she is sensitive to the needs of others. She is a problem solver; she tends to see setbacks as opportunities. She’s always engaged and is a source of calm to her colleagues. Her manager feels lucky to have such an easy direct report to work with and often compliments Esther on her high levels of emotional intelligence, or EI. And Esther indeed counts EI as one of her strengths; she’s grateful for at least one thing she doesn’t have to work on as part of her leadership development. It’s strange, though — even with her positive outlook, Esther is starting to feel stuck in her career. She just hasn’t been able to demonstrate the kind of performance her company is looking for. So much for emotional intelligence, she’s starting to think.

The trap that has ensnared Esther and her manager is a common one: They are defining emotional intelligence much too narrowly. Because they’re focusing only on Esther’s sociability, sensitivity, and likability, they’re missing critical elements of emotional intelligence that could make her a stronger, more effective leader. A recent HBR article highlights the skills that a kind, positive manager like Esther might lack: the ability to deliver difficult feedback to employees, the courage to ruffle feathers and drive change, the creativity to think outside the box. But these gaps aren’t a result of Esther’s emotional intelligence; they’re simply evidence that her EI skills are uneven. In the model of EI and leadership excellence that we have developed over 30 years of studying the strengths of outstanding leaders, we’ve found that having a well-balanced array of specific EI capabilities actually prepares a leader for exactly these kinds of tough challenges.

There are many models of emotional intelligence, each with its own set of abilities; they are often lumped together as “EQ” in the popular vernacular. We prefer “EI,” which we define as comprising four domains: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Nested within each domain are twelve EI competencies, learned and learnable capabilities that allow outstanding performance at work or as a leader (see the image below). These include areas in which Esther is clearly strong: empathy, positive outlook, and self-control. But they also include crucial abilities such as achievement, influence, conflict management, teamwork and inspirational leadership. These skills require just as much engagement with emotions as the first set, and should be just as much a part of any aspiring leader’s development priorities.

Esther is a well-liked manager of a small team. Kind and respectful, she is sensitive to the needs of others. She is a problem solver; she tends to see setbacks as opportunities. She’s always engaged and is a source of calm to her colleagues. Her manager feels lucky to have such an easy direct report to work with and often compliments Esther on her high levels of emotional intelligence, or EI. And Esther indeed counts EI as one of her strengths; she’s grateful for at least one thing she doesn’t have to work on as part of her leadership development. It’s strange, though — even with her positive outlook, Esther is starting to feel stuck in her career. She just hasn’t been able to demonstrate the kind of performance her company is looking for. So much for emotional intelligence, she’s starting to think.

The trap that has ensnared Esther and her manager is a common one: They are defining emotional intelligence much too narrowly. Because they’re focusing only on Esther’s sociability, sensitivity, and likability, they’re missing critical elements of emotional intelligence that could make her a stronger, more effective leader. A recent HBR article highlights the skills that a kind, positive manager like Esther might lack: the ability to deliver difficult feedback to employees, the courage to ruffle feathers and drive change, the creativity to think outside the box. But these gaps aren’t a result of Esther’s emotional intelligence; they’re simply evidence that her EI skills are uneven. In the model of EI and leadership excellence that we have developed over 30 years of studying the strengths of outstanding leaders, we’ve found that having a well-balanced array of specific EI capabilities actually prepares a leader for exactly these kinds of tough challenges.

There are many models of emotional intelligence, each with its own set of abilities; they are often lumped together as “EQ” in the popular vernacular. We prefer “EI,” which we define as comprising four domains: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Nested within each domain are twelve EI competencies, learned and learnable capabilities that allow outstanding performance at work or as a leader (see the image below). These include areas in which Esther is clearly strong: empathy, positive outlook, and self-control. But they also include crucial abilities such as achievement, influence, conflict management, teamwork and inspirational leadership. These skills require just as much engagement with emotions as the first set, and should be just as much a part of any aspiring leader’s development priorities.

For example, if Esther had strength in conflict management, she would be skilled in giving people unpleasant feedback. And if she were more inclined to influence, she would want to provide that difficult feedback as a way to lead her direct reports and help them grow. Say, for example, that Esther has a peer who is overbearing and abrasive. Rather than smoothing over every interaction, with a broader balance of EI skills she could bring up the issue to her colleague directly, drawing on emotional self-control to keep her own reactivity at bay while telling him what, specifically, does not work in his style. Bringing simmering issues to the surface goes to the core of conflict management. Esther could also draw on influence strategy to explain to her colleague that she wants to see him succeed, and that if he monitored how his style impacted those around him he would understand how a change would help everyone.

Similarly, if Esther had developed her inspirational leadership competence, she would be more successful at driving change. A leader with this strength can articulate a vision or mission that resonates emotionally with both themselves and those they lead, which is a key ingredient in marshaling the motivation essential for going in a new direction. Indeed, several studies have found a strong association between EI, driving change, and visionary leadership.

In order to excel, leaders need to develop a balance of strengths across the suite of EI competencies. When they do that, excellent business results follow.

How can you tell where your EI needs improvement — especially if you feel that it’s strong in some areas?

Simply reviewing the 12 competencies in your mind can give you a sense of where you might need some development. There are a number of formal models of EI, and many of them come with their own assessment tools. When choosing a tool to use, consider how well it predicts leadership outcomes. Some assess how you see yourself; these correlate highly with personality tests, which also tap into a person’s “self-schema.” Others, like that of Yale University president Peter Salovey and his colleagues, define EI as an ability; their test, the MSCEIT (a commercially available product), correlates more highly with IQ than any other EI test.

We recommend comprehensive 360-degree assessments, which collect both self-ratings and the views of others who know you well. This external feedback is particularly helpful for evaluating all areas of EI, including self-awareness (how would you know that you are not self-aware?). You can get a rough gauge of where your strengths and weaknesses lie by asking those who work with you to give you feedback. The more people you ask, the better a picture you get.

Formal 360-degree assessments, which incorporate systematic, anonymous observations of your behavior by people who work with you, have been found to not correlate well with IQ or personality, but they are the best predictors of a leader’s effectiveness, actual business performance, engagement, and job (and life) satisfaction. Into this category fall our own model and the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory, or ESCI 360, a commercially available assessment we developed with Korn Ferry Hay Group to gauge the 12 EI competencies, which rely on how others rate observable behaviors in evaluating a leader. The larger the gap between a leader’s self-ratings and how others see them, research finds, the fewer EI strengths the leader actually shows, and the poorer the business results.

These assessments are critical to a full evaluation of your EI, but even understanding that these 12 competencies are all a part of your emotional intelligence is an important first step in addressing areas where your EI is at its weakest. Coaching is the most effective method for improving in areas of EI deficit. Having expert support during your ups and downs as you practice operating in a new way is invaluable.

Even people with many apparent leadership strengths can stand to better understand those areas of EI where we have room to grow. Don’t shortchange your development as a leader by assuming that EI is all about being sweet and chipper, or that your EI is perfect if you are — or, even worse, assume that EI can’t help you excel in your career.

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Thailand is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change and its impacts. 

Located on the equator and as part of the Mekong River Basin, the impacts are already being felt — beginning with the most vulnerable. 

This year, the region experienced the worst drought in almost half a century, affecting growing seasons, damaging crops and contributing to one of the worst wildfire seasons in a lifetime.

Meanwhile, Bangkok is sinking up to two centimetres every year, and more than 10% of the Thai population now live in places likely to be underwater by 2050. While the government seems to be lagging far behind in progress, potential solutions already exist.

Project drawdown

In March, scientists published the “Drawdown Review 2020”, “the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming”. The project gathered 100 top climate solutions reviewed and analysed by a coalition of researchers, scientists, entrepreneurs and advocates across the globe.

To help the world reach “drawdown” – defined as the point in which greenhouse gas emissions plateau and decline – the research proposes practical models and policy improvements from existing technologies. 

Why? Because there is no single silver bullet for climate change. To mitigate and adapt to climate change, a broad range of solutions in various sectors and industries have to be taken into account. 

The top of the list consists mainly of systemic changes related to renewable energy, land use, food production, carbon sinks (such as forests, agricultural crops and peatlands), refrigerant management (cooling and insulation), as well as education and healthcare. 

Some other examples include increasing solar power generation, reducing food waste, restoring tropical forests, as well as improving girls’ education and enhancing family planning.

National context needed for global solutions

The Drawdown Review proposed an expansive range of solutions but also cover a broad list of global methodologies. 

To effectively address climate change, these plans will need to be contextual, and most importantly, local.

Fortunately, Thailand has great potential for development. 

Currently, Thailand produces about 15 percent of its total energy from renewables and plans to increase this to 30 percent by 2036 as part of its Alternative Energy Development Plan. The energy systems are in need of extensive development and there are clear opportunities for renewable energy pathways for future development.

Whilst Thailand is not a super emitter by the likes of China or the USA, it is still in the top 25 highest emitters of CO² in the world, which is concerning given the country’s size. 

Cognisant of a need for action, in 2015, Thailand submitted its first Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement which promised to reduce net GHG emissions by 20% of 2030 Business and Usual Levels

This may seem ambitious to some, but the targets are not even a decrease of current levels; in fact, these targets would put net CO² emission levels at over double, and close to triple, the country’s most recently published current emission figures

More ambitious targets and action are needed by Thailand to help the world reach even a 2 ℃ scenario. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated that world emissions need to be reduced by 45% of current levels by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 to reach 1.5℃ — the more ambitious and necessary of the temperature targets. 

While countries like China, the USA, and those who have already gone through carbon intensive development periods certainly hold the weight of this responsibility, achieving these targets requires the whole world — including Thailand — to play their part in becoming carbon neutral and not increasing current emission levels. 

What must Thailand do?

From analysing the 100 proposed solutions, we have selected 20 as the best solutions for Thailand, ordered by possible effectiveness. 

This is by no means an official list, and while Project Drawdown is a collaborative effort from a coalition of climate scientists, the solutions selected and presented below were done by a single climate scientist with specialities in climate change development and policy.  

  1. Refrigerant Management

Over 50% of Thailand’s electricity is used for refrigeration and cooling, according RAC NAMA Thailand, a company committed to the mitigation of refrigeration in the country

This reliance on refrigerants accounts for 20% of the country’s GHG emissions. Widely used refrigerants like HFCs have a 1,000 to 9,000 times higher capacity to warm the climate than carbon dioxide. 

The demand for these refrigerants are only expected to increase by 2030 — but the careful management of these products can have a powerful positive impact on our emission rates. It should be said that better insulation in buildings in Thailand would also drastically reduce the need for refrigerants. 

  1. Utility scale solar photovoltaics

Solar power has the highest potential in achieving 100% clean energy, according to the country’s Renewable Energy Outlook produced by the International Renewable Energy Agency and the Ministry of Energy. 

With so much sunlight year round, a relatively flat geography, and plenty of available land, Thailand is very well suited to solar power generation though it only accounted for 0.5% of the country’s energy profile in 2016.

  1. Concentrated solar power 

The main difference between concentrated solar power and solar photovoltaics (PV) is that while PV directly converts sunlight into electricity, concentrated solar power uses heat generated by the sun to power steam turbines, similar to the core technology of fossil fuel generation. 

While it doesn’t have the same potential as solar PV, the high levels of heat in Thailand — with Bangkok being the hottest city in the world — makes it an ideal environment for this technology.

However, its dependence on clear skies makes concentrated solar power unsuitable for the rainy season. But because it stores heat rather than electricity, this technology is capable of generating electricity even after sunset.

  1. Health and education

Health and education is the single best way to improve the amount of climate action taken in Thailand. There’s a reason it is so high on the list of effective solutions generated by Project Drawdown. 

It not only educates people on the importance of climate action, illustrating its close ties to people’s human rights but empowers women to family plan keeping the birthrate down. 

Any individual person has a large climate footprint which is why having a child is one of the most carbon intensive actions a person can take. 

This recommendation primarily pertains to population growth – Thailand’s birth rate of 1.53 births per woman is much lower than the global average of 2.42 and only continues to drop.

However, the birthrate can still be further reduced, and climate education does have a great impact on mitigation efforts and thus should be highly valued.

  1. Biomass power

The energy sector is Thailand’s greatest emitter and that is why it has the greatest potential for improvement. 

Every year, Thailand has a terrible burning season which consistently puts Chiang Mai as the worst ranked city for air quality in the world every year, posing a public health concern and threatening human rights. 

According to a joint report by the International Renewable Energy Agency and The Ministry of Energy, Thailand’s greatest renewable energy potential by far lies in solid biomass — which is any plant or animal material used for energy production. 

In Thailand, the most common sources for biomass are agricultural plant matter such as palm fronds, rice husks, sugar cane bagasse, or corn cobs. The burning of these materials can power traditional steam power plants. However, the burning of biomass creates carbon emissions and is more of a ‘bridge’ alternative to help countries transition to 100% clean energy than it is a permanent, sustainable solution.

  1. Reduced food waste

Reducing food waste is the solution with the highest potential impact in Project Drawdown’s global estimates — due to the high greenhouse gas intensity and land use emissions in food production and animal agriculture. 

Although, this food waste often occurs in highly developed countries — reports indicate that 64% of Thailand’s waste is composed of food.

  1. Onshore wind power

Thailand has relatively low wind speeds — however, depending on the wind power technology used, onshore wind power still holds great potential. 

According to the Renewable Energy Outlook, though it has about half the potential of solar power, it still makes for the second best option to achieve 100% clean energy. 

  1. Improved rice production

Rice production is responsible for at least 10% of global agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and 9-19% of methane emissions. 

Methane is a greenhouse gas with 34 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide. By improving rice production, Thailand can grow rice more efficiently, sequester carbon, and decrease methane emissions through improved wetting and drying methods, better nutrients, more climate friendly plant varieties, and by using techniques to avoid tillage while seeding. 

Because Thailand is one of the largest producers of rice in the world, these methods can have a big scale impact on greenhouse gas emissions. 

  1. Plant rich diets

Because of the amount of emissions produced by animal agriculture, plant rich diets have been shown to be a very effective way to reduce people’s impact on the environment, as suggested by many reports and studies which all claim that avoiding meat and dairy was the single biggest way an individual can reduce their environmental impact. 

Though these recommendations have more bearing in highly developed countries with high animal protein intake, it can still have a great impact in Thailand where meat consumption is on the rise. 

  1. Alternative refrigerants

The fluorinated gases used in our refrigerants have a potent, significant greenhouse effect. 

With the amount of refrigerant usage in Thailand, the country can greatly lower its emissions by not only managing its consumption and disposal, but also shifting to alternative refrigerants such as ammonia or captured carbon dioxide.

  1. Forest Protection

Forests are one of the most effective ways to sequester carbon, being one of the significant ways Thailand continues to keep emissions down. The country has long had a goal of 40% forest cover, making it is crucial to hold the government accountable to this goal and perhaps even increasing it as urban development and intensive agriculture expands. 

  1. Distributed solar photovoltaics 

Rooftop Solar PV is a market that remains largely untapped in Thailand. Distributed solar photovoltaics — the bulk of which is rooftop solar panels — are a powerful way for consumers to take energy production into their own hands, giving households and companies the ability to generate electricity for profit. 

Over the years, the price of solar energy technology has dropped considerably and continues to do so. In rural or remote areas, solar PVs can also provide access to electricity, bypassing the need for large scale power grids.

  1. Improved clean cooking stoves 

Around 30% of Thailand’s households still use traditional biomass fuel for cooking, which is still listed as a major source for the renewable energy in Thailand. 

But annually, well over 4 million people die as a result of these fuels due to its indoor air pollution. Traditional biomass also produces 2-5% of the world’s greenhouse gasses, which makes clean cooking stoves a practical and promising solution to not only reduce climate impacts but also save lives.

  1. Public transit

Public transit is used quite widely across Bangkok and Thailand, but still highly lacks the infrastructure to be truly effective. 

Though these transit systems are consistently packed, traffic in Bangkok is still one of the worst in the world. The transportation sector is the highest emitting sector in Thailand.

Building on existing infrastructures to increase capacity, energy use, access, comfort, speed and other improvements could easily help promote Thailand’s public transit and drastically reduce the number of cars on the road, and in turn drastically reduce Thailand’s emissions as well as air pollution.

  1. Tropical forest restoration

This solution is only further down on the list because our existing forest must be protected before it can be restored. Despite Thailand’s goal of achieving 40% forest cover, set in 1975, forest cover has actually gone from 53.5% cover in 1961 to 31.6% in 2014

Continued pressure has slowed this downward movement almost to stagnation, but deforestation slowly continues. Tropical forests are extremely crucial for our climate and environment, serving as vital carbon sinks and ecosystems, thus making it a top priority for climate action.

  1. Electric cars

Much of Thailand uses cars that emit huge amounts of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane — highly toxic contributors to climate change and greenhouse gases. 

While producing more cars may not be the answer to our problems, electric cars can vastly reduce emissions and improve air quality, especially in big cities like Bangkok.

  1. Biochar production

Biochar, produced by slowly baking biomass through a process called pyrolysis, can sequester large amounts of carbon and help enrich soil. 

This is a viable solution for Thailand because of the huge amounts of biomass we have. 

As previously mentioned, biomass should be treated as a transitory form of energy. The same material cannot go through the both processes, thus while biomass is the more powerful recommendation as of right now, biochar can continue to put these materials to good use sequestering carbon, once biomass production begins to be phased out by cleaner forms of energy. 

  1. Peatland protection and rewetting

Peatlands are a type of wetlands made up of partially decayed organic matter that has immense carbon storage capacity — despite only covering only 3% of the world’s surface, they store more carbon than anything but oceans and store one third of the world’s soil carbon. 

However, if not protected, this carbon sink can turn into a big carbon emitter. There is a substantial amount of peatland in Thailand — around 45,300 to 64,500 hectares — all of which needs to be protected. 

  1. Recycling

The infrastructure and culture for recycling in Thailand still lags far behind. 

Recycling is an important way to curb emissions from manufacturing and landfills. However, what’s more important than recycling is to avoid the consumption of single use products altogether — policy for this should be quite easy to implement if finally taken seriously. 

  1. Alternative cement

Cement is the second most consumed resource on the planet after water — accounting for an estimated 8% of global emissions

While the top five highest producers — dominated by China and India — produce 71% of the world’s cement, Thailand is still among the top 15 in an industry that spans 160 countries.

The most common form of concrete is a combination of crushed limestone and aluminosilicate clay that is roasted in a kiln, a process which is extremely harmful to both human and ecological health. Alternative cements can reduce emissions by using materials like volcanic ash or industrial waste products that upsurge the most carbon and energy intensive process in cement production. 

Though Thailand is beginning to take big steps toward cleaner production, it still has a long way to go as one of the largest producers of cement.

To push for more climate action in Thailand and work towards implementing these proposed solutions require individual change and governmental pressure. 

Equipped with the knowledge of what has to be done and how we might achieve it, we can put more concrete pressure on the government and the people around us to act. 

The technology and methods to actualise the change we need to save our planet exists. The twenty solutions listed may not all necessarily be the most applicable in our context, but the Drawdown Project has presented us with viable options that are being implemented in the world right now. 

The next step is to call for these technologies and methods to be invested by our government and other relevant organisations — that they be put into policy, and that those around us demand the same. 

Perhaps for many of you, climate change has sat on the back burner, particularly with the current political situation. 

However, there is no denying that climate change should continue to be a priority issue for all of us. 

Without immediate and drastic change over the next few decades, billions, particularly the most vulnerable, will suffer. We implore you to take to the streets, demand action from the government, get involved in your local community, or even just spread awareness about these issues and solutions.

Drawdown Review

A renewable energy outlook for Thailand published by IRENA: 

https://www.irena.org/-/media/Files/IRENA/Agency/Publication/2017/Nov/IRENA_Outlook_Thailand_2017.pdf

https://www4.unfccc.int/sites/SubmissionsStaging/NationalReports/Documents/52047631_Thailand-NC3-1-Thailand%20TNC.pdf (page 32 Most up to date emission portfolio from Thailand by the UNFCCC – also divided into sectors and GHG)

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Nairobi, Kenya (CNN)A fleet of balloons has begun providing internet service to remote areas of Kenya, Google’s Project Loon and Telkom Kenya announced.

It’s the first balloon-powered internet to launch in Africa, and the first non-emergency commercial deployment in the world, the two companies said.

According to a statement, the project will use a fleet of 35 or more balloons floating 20 kilometers above ground, in constant motion in the stratosphere, to provide 4G LTE service spanning 50,000 square kilometers across central and western Kenya.
The balloons are launched from locations in the United States and are being navigated to Kenya using wind currents. According to Project Loon, more balloons will be released as more experience in flying over Kenya is gained.
 
The technology will “offer connectivity to the many Kenyans who live in remote regions that are underserved or totally unserved, and as such remain disadvantaged,” Telkom Kenya’s CEO, Mugo Kibati said in the statement released Tuesday.
 
Project Loon balloons had previously been used to provide emergency connectivity in the aftermath of crises such as Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico when mobile networks went down.
 
The project, which had been in the works for years, was accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic and the global necessity to work online. The Loon project has the ability to connect “targeted communities to emergency services, as well as ensure enhanced and alternative communication options during this time,” said Loon Inc. CEO Alistair Westgarth in the statement.
The balloons are made from polyethylene sheets and are about the size of tennis courts.
 
In a televised address in March, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said the balloons will allow the country retain its competitive advantage in information and communications technology and innovation on the continent.
 
Only 28% of Africa’s 1.3 billion people have access to the internet, according to a 2019 report by the Alliance for Affordable Internet. Loon and Telkom Kenya are hoping to close this gap.
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Today, we face changes that are happening faster than ever before. Change is great as it presents both individuals and businesses with new opportunities to reach new heights of success. But change can also be unsettling and disruptive for some.

At the end of the day, we are all humans. Though we can learn to manage change better, it can still take a toll on us. The reality is, it doesn’t get any better. We will constantly face bigger challenges ahead and they will continue to affect us in both positive and negative ways.

The good news is, we can prepare ourselves for those challenges. While it doesn’t necessarily get easier, we can learn to adapt faster to overcome challenges. So, how can we ensure we are prepared to face more challenges such as the recent pandemic? And how can we ensure our skills remain relevant in our ever-changing world?

 

Here are seven skills to start developing and strengthening to help you stay relevant and face the changes in our coming new world post-pandemic.

The first skill is emotional intelligence. We cannot deny that change can affect us in many ways, one being in the emotional aspect. But how we acknowledge and react to those emotions, both our own and those of others facing the same challenge, is critical.

The second skill is a growth mindset. Just as a house requires a strong foundation to endure, we require a strong mindset to face change.

The growth mindset is a concept developed by Dr Carol Dweck, an American psychologist at Stanford University. It is a great starting point as the concept is built around finding opportunities and learning in the face of every kind of adversity.

The third skill is empathy. Empathy builds on the skills that allow you to truly open up and understand the real needs of others. This is the most important first step in any problem-solving process as it opens the door to new insights you otherwise may have not known.

This skill can be applied toward your external customers, but also toward those you’re working with, such as your boss or your team.

The fourth skill is leadership. Whether you’re a business leader or an employee in an organisation or even a freelancer, you still require leadership skills. When you look at the tasks you need to tackle and the challenges you need to face, you need to be able to be proactive and self-lead through them.

The fifth skill is agility. To be agile is to adapt to coming changes with speed. Change can happen suddenly, so we must prepare ourselves constantly. The key to this is being proactive.

Another important thing to remember is that, while being agile is crucial, balancing between being rigid and flexible is equally important. Yes, we cannot be rigid in the way work, but at the same time, we cannot always be swayed by everything that happens. 

The sixth skill is data analytics. We have so much data available these days to understand customers and potential markets. But, are we trying to make sense of it in our work? As a default, we tend to know what’s going on but don’t use the information to support our work.

The final skill is creative problem-solving. From what we learn in terms of the situation and our customers, both external and internal, we need to be able to connect the dots and find creative solutions. Especially during this unsettled period, creative, cost-effective solutions would be the ideal route in solving any problem we face.

These skills can be developed mainly through practice but require a basic understanding of what they truly mean and how to apply them in everyday life. It can be daunting, especially if you’re not familiar with certain skill sets, so here are some tips to begin your journey.

First, identify what you need to develop and the goals you want to achieve. Second, set a learning plan where you identify the resources required to achieve your goal. Third, practise learning in daily situations. It may feel unnatural but the more you do this, the more comfortable you’re going to be. Finally, measure whether the takeaway from the learning allowed you to achieve your goals. Go back to each step whenever necessary.

While there are particular skill sets in each industry, business and job role, these skills and tips listed above act as a launching pad toward more of the learning and development needed to keep up with change. At the end of the day, when it comes to change, we know we cannot stop learning, as otherwise we will face redundancy.

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Lady

Mmmm. . .

Mika made a wordless sound of pleasure, despite herself.

Cheb mai kap (is it painful)?” a gentle voice asked worriedly.

Mai, mai, sabai dee (no, no, it feels good),” Mika assured him with a smile, her eyes closed.

This is heaven…

Mika tried to refrain from letting out any more sounds so that her masseuse would not loosen his pressure. Kneaded, stretched, and pressed, she felt her muscles gradually softening. The stagnant blood started to flow again, bringing welcomed warmth to her cold-stiffened body. Thai massage starts with your feet. The expert masseuse used his soft but strong fingers to knead each toe while he pressed his strong thumb into the arch of her foot. The pressure of a single finger on a small spot of her arch sent an electric-like shock through to Mika’s head. It was painful but strangely pleasant. It was like a hidden locked spot of exhaustion was finally revealed and mercifully treated. His warm fingers and palms were consistent and tireless, tending each aching muscle, from foot to leg, hand to arm, back to shoulder and head. Mika could feel the tension easing with each stroke, slowly but steadily, until it finally melted away. There was no way around it. Thai massage felt good. So good.

Mika wandered between reality and dream, half awake, half asleep.
This is heaven…
She whispered silently, leaving her whole body defenceless to the masseuse.In downtown Bangkok, you could find a massage parlour on every block, in all sorts of arrangements, from proper, traditional massage parlours to shady, suspicious-looking ones. Mika avoided shops called “Cherry Blossom” or “Big Mango” or “Tropical Paradise.” One time she walked into a small shop someone recommended and found a white board saying “Absolutely No Sex” in large red letters. At first she thought it was a joke but decided that might not be the case. The plain-looking receptionist sitting on a vinyl-covered chair at a steel desk didn’t even smile. Her matter-of-fact expression made Mika realise that there were people, probably tourists (the notice was written in English), who would expect such service in “the City of Angels,” even in this humble-looking shop. Most massage parlours provided “absolutely no sex” traditional Thai massage. They were usually small townhouse shops, simple and plain, charging a mere four hundred baht ($12) for two hours. It was incredibly cheap for such labor-intensive work. Mika was not sure how the businesses could survive, but it seemed more and more shops were popping up since she came to Bangkok.

candlelight

Mika went for a massage at least once a month, if not every other week. She tried a bunch of different massage parlours to conclude that more expensive did not necessarily mean better. Some fairly big standalone shops, with branches at several locations and English speaking receptionists managing masseuses and customers, charged 50% more than the average. They were clean and modern, with value-added services like herbal tea in a celadon cup, aromatic fragrance, and so-called healing music. But the masseuses’ skills were not necessarily the best. Mika found the best ones were those with minimal services, no hot towel, no herbal tea, no healing music, only the massage. No fancy decorations on the walls, just the masseuses’ certificates proudly framed and hung where everyone could see. Interestingly, these places had a mix of male and female masseuses, while most regular massage parlours had only female masseuses. If she had a choice of a male or female masseuse, Mika would choose a male every time. Her friends thought it was uncomfortable to be touched all over by a male stranger, but Mika didn’t feel that way. They were professional (at least at the massage parlours that she frequented), and men have bigger hands and stronger pressure. Even with the same level of pressure, she found that the male’s controlled pressure was much more comfortable and effective than the female’s utmost pressure. Mika felt secure in the hands of controlled pressure.

Mika would get a massage whenever she felt tired, physically or emotionally, which was, unfortunately, more often than she wished. “I understand massage works when you are physically tired,” Asako once inquired. “But what do you mean, emotionally? How does massage work for emotional stress?” “You don’t know?” Mika raised her eyebrows unnaturally; she knew she was exaggerating her expression. “Body and mind are one. When you are emotionally stressed, your body also gets stressed. When your body relaxes, your mind also relaxes.” She hoped she didn’t sound like a new-wave spiritual brochure. “Is that right? Then we should export Thai massage to the U.S. People spend a fortune on counselling there. If your theory is true, Thai massage could heal their problems. We could be billionaires!” Asako was mocking Mika’s theory, but Mika wasn’t offended. Asako had no way of knowing that Mika knew more about this than she let on. Actually, in addition to massage, Mika had spent a fortune on counselling at Bumrungrad Hospital, one of the exclusive private hospitals in Bangkok. Mika thought about telling Asako, but she didn’t. It was not because she wanted to keep it a secret (she had told Mitsuko and Yurie), but because she didn’t want to upset Asako with her problems. Mika knew that, underneath her tough demeanour, Asako was sensitive, especially to other people’s pain.

Mika had never thought she would become a regular customer of massage parlours at this age. She was still in her early forties. When she was a child, massage was for elderly people, usually men. A massage parlour was for “Grandpa” or a tired “salary man,” but not for middle-aged housewives, at least not for ordinary housewives she knew, like her mother or aunts. Nor had Mika thought she would need professional counselling. She used to think counselling was for those really unfortunate who had no friend to talk to or who were mentally ill. She never thought she would need extensive counselling for herself. When she was in her early twenties, she used to imagine herself as a forty year old woman, mature and strong in her prime. She had once thought she would be in full bloom now, radiating confidence and happiness as a wife, as a mother, maybe as a career woman too. Confucius said forty was the age of “no confusion.”

Where did I go wrong?  She was confused. And it seemed there was no way out. Mika hadn’t slept with her husband for . . . how long was it now? Longer than she could remember. She didn’t think that was the cause of her depression. It was simply a symptom. A sexless marriage was nothing particularly unusual for Japanese couples, or so she had read in a gossipy women’s magazine. More than half of couples had no sex for longer than a year, it said. So, she thought, we’re just one of them. It is not a big deal. What surprised her was that more than 70% of those other sexless couples claimed they still loved their spouses. Mika could not say she loved her spouse. She didn’t hate him, but she didn’t love him, either. Both words, love and hate, were too strong and too real for her inactive feeling. Maybe her feelings for him were locked up somewhere deep inside her where they couldn’t be easily retrieved. It would be easier for Mika to understand her feelings if Takeshi had a fateful flaw, like adultery, alcoholism, or domestic violence. Then she could have blamed him for the cause. But he didn’t have any faults Mika could express in words. Yet just imagining years ahead with Takeshi made her feel she was about to suffocate.

Where did we go wrong? Mika wondered if Takeshi loved her, but it didn’t matter. She didn’t care. Surely, they had once been in love. They had met at a party in Manhattan when Takeshi was working for the United Nations and Mika was an art history graduate student at New York University. In their first conversation, they discovered they both were alumni of Keio University, one of the top private universities in Japan. Realizing they had some friends in common, they planned to catch up again soon. They had quickly become close. Mika remembered a long summer afternoon sipping chilled white wine together on the grass of Central Park, listening to a jazz band. She also remembered a frozen winter evening, walking on Fifth Avenue, stopping in front of the windows of luxurious shops, their hands together in a warm pocket of his coat. Now those memories flashed back like scenes in a romantic movie. She was sure they had been in love then.

Mika had planned to return to Japan after obtaining her master’s degree, but when she finished, she stayed on. She told her mother about a great opportunity to work for an art gallery in New York that would help her get a better job later in Japan. That was not a lie, but above all, she wanted to stay with Takeshi. Mika enjoyed working in Manhattan, getting involved in the lively art world and meeting all sorts of interesting people. And Takeshi was great company. After work, she often stopped by his apartment to tell him about events at her gallery or people she met. He sipped a glass of wine, relaxed on the La-Z-boy, and listened to her endless chatting with a smile. She loved his calm smile. Mika spent many evenings in his apartment, sometimes overnight. Her friends asked why she didn’t move in with him. It would surely be more economical. But she kept her small apartment because she liked the feeling that they were equal and independent partners. Takeshi was self-sufficient and didn’t expect her to wait on him or take care of daily chores for him. Unlike traditional Japanese men, he was not demanding. But he was there when she needed him. Mika liked that.

Then, nearly a year after they started dating, Mika got pregnant. She had been taking birth control pills, so this was an inexplicable and unwelcome surprise. She had always imagined being a mother someday, but not this soon. She wanted to focus on her exciting career. She hadn’t even been thinking about marrying Takeshi. Mika enjoyed his company immensely, and she assumed Takeshi felt the same about her, but they’d just been dating. They hadn’t talked about a more serious commitment. She thought about aborting it without telling him. She knew Takeshi didn’t want to have children. He had once said he would not want such responsibility. If she just took care of it quietly, they could continue to stay what they were, a happy couple, independent partners, without any commitment or responsibility. But then, a life was starting there, whether she’d wished it or not. The baby was theirs, not just hers. Shouldn’t this be their decision? Mika knew she couldn’t deal with it alone and then act as if nothing had happened.

It was a Sunday afternoon in November, rainy outside, but warm inside his apartment. Takeshi made coffee, grinding the beans himself. He brought Mika a cup, and they sat side-by-side on the sofa. Mika loved the fragrance of coffee. She inhaled. A quiet Sunday afternoon filled with the aroma of coffee. She wanted to freeze this moment in her mind, before she shattered it. Looking down at her cup, rather than at Takeshi, she said, “I’m pregnant.” Mika tried to make it sound the same as if she’d said, “It’s raining.” Takeshi’s response was equally calm. “I thought you were using a contraceptive.”
“I was.” “Then, why?” “I don’t know.” Takeshi didn’t say anything for a while. He appeared emotionless. Obviously he was not thrilled with the news, but he didn’t panic, either. He sounded even gentle when he asked, “What will you do?”
Mika felt the prick of a sharp needle to her heart. Those four words, carefully or carelessly chosen, changed their lives forever. If he had asked, “What should we do?” or even, “What would you like to do?” they could have had a conversation, come to a shared decision.

Instead, Mika’s response surprised herself. “I will keep it.” She was unnecessarily stern, so that she would not show the true weakness of this wobbly decision. Looking back on that day, Mika still didn’t know why she had gotten so stubborn. She had been leaning toward abortion until that moment. She knew it was a practical solution, though not an easy decision. Life is a gift, she had thought. Shouldn’t one always accept a gift graciously? Yes, but when you are not ready and cannot be responsible, isn’t it better to tap the “delete” key?

Really? Should you give up the baby so easily just because you didn’t plan it? Life is full of the unpredictable. Shouldn’t you change yourself to accommodate and make best of it? But what if I don’t want to? Shouldn’t I have that choice? Mika had gone through this monologue over and over in her mind. And she had planned to make it a dialogue with Takeshi. She had wanted to go through this process with him so that they could make a decision together. Because it was their baby, their reality, and above all, their future. If he had asked her to get an abortion, she would have done it. All she needed was Takeshi’s support to make the decision. But he didn’t offer an opinion or any support. He didn’t argue anything. He simply said, “If you say so,” as if giving up on a stubborn girl, and then he stood up to get another cup of coffee. Mika wanted to scream at his back, but she didn’t know for what. She’d made a decision, and he had agreed. That was it. Marika arrived seven months later.

To be fair, Takeshi was a gentleman. He did what he was supposed to do – registered a marriage, accompanied her to medical appointments, acted like a model father. When he was around, he fed Marika, bathed her, and even changed her diapers. What was there to complain about? Yet…Mika couldn’t help but feel Takeshi was just doing his duty. Shouldn’t she sense more love and joy coming from him, even if fatherhood had been unexpected? Mika could feel he didn’t totally accept this course of life. Then again, she might be too sensitive, over-reading him. Her hormones after the delivery could distort reality, right? Other times, she thought, So what if he actually hasn’t accepted the reality? What would be the point in asking? She didn’t want to label the baby as “unwanted.”

Mika was bouncing a ten month old, giggling Marika on her lap when Takeshi announced he’d accepted a post in Bangkok, starting in two months. Mika’s eyes went wide at her husband. She stopped smiling at the baby and pulled her close to her bosom. “Why didn’t you say anything about applying for the post?” Mika surprised them both with this slight push back. “I didn’t know if I would get the position.” He shrugged, like it hardly mattered. “What about us? What about my career?” “You are not working anyway.” “But it’s only temporary. Until Marika starts school. New York has better opportunities for me in the art business, don’t you think?” Mika had quit her job when Marika came. At the time, Takeshi was of the opinion that she didn’t have to change her whole life because of the baby, but Mika couldn’t imagine leaving her child with a stranger in a foreign country. Takeshi knew she had always intended to go back to work.

“Well,” said Takeshi, “if you don’t want to move, you don’t have to come.” His tone said, End of argument. Just like that? You can leave Marika and me just like that? Family being together doesn’t mean anything to you?  She didn’t speak, because she didn’t know what she should argue for. Takeshi was not forcing her to do anything, and she knew he would act dutifully one way or the other. If she decided to follow, he would include them in his life in Bangkok. If she decided to stay in New York, he would, she was certain, provide for them financially.

Stunned into silence, Mika rose to bathe her daughter. It was a little earlier than her routine, but sensing the tension, Marika had started to fuss, and Mika needed an excuse to leave the living room. She ran hot water in the bath and splashed water gently onto Marika and then onto her own face, so her tears wouldn’t be noticed. Marika giggled and Mika was soothed by her daughter’s joy and the steam and sweet smell of baby shampoo filling the small bathroom. Mika remembered one day, a few months earlier, when Takeshi had invited her to meet him after his workday for a concert at a theatre uptown. Mika didn’t want to go out. She was always tired, and she worried about leaving Marika with a babysitter, even for a couple of hours. But Takeshi had insisted they needed time alone and she needed to get out of the house and breathe some fresh air. It was unusual for him to insist, so she accepted.

Mika felt her spirits lift as she dressed up for an evening occasion, putting on a little makeup and slipping her feet into stockings and high heels, which she had not done since midway through her pregnancy. She felt renewed as she hurried to meet her husband in front of the theatre. When she caught Takeshi’s eye, she smiled at him. It was indeed good for us to get some time alone, she thought. But just as she was reaching for his arm, he turned and walked toward the entrance without waiting for her. No “Hi,” no hug. She stood there, a few feet away from him, watching his back. For a second, she thought about going home.

Now, as Mika played with Marika, she felt she was watching his back again. Even if I had gone home that evening, he would have enjoyed the concert alone. He will go to Bangkok whether I follow him or not. She knew he would be fine with or without her and Marika. In the end, she decided a child needs a father, and Takeshi was actually a good father, or at least acted as such. And she was not ready for the life of a single mother. But maybe she should have chosen that path. It would have been tough, but she might have been happier…
Hmmm…
Once again, Mika could not hold her voice. The masseuse was moving onto her back after massaging her legs and arms. He pressed his elbow slowly on her back, giving her a dull pain yet releasing the tension. His elbow slid one inch at a time from the shoulder to the lower back, first down the right side of her spine, and then down the left side. As the masseuse continued his slow kneading, Mika considered how perfect the human body was as a tool for giving massage. Besides regular use of fingers and palms, the elbow, forearm, and even foot could find its most appropriate use as an instrument in massaging another human’s tired body. No technology, no equipment, no electricity. Just simple body parts of one human being performing such a perfect job on another.

And the warmth. The warmth of the masseuse’s skin was such a comfort by itself. Mika hadn’t realised before how relaxing it was to feel the warmth of another person’s skin on her skin. Not too cold, not too hot, but just the right warmth to soothe. It even helped that there was no emotional intimacy between the masseuse and Mika. Just a simple trade of the service for its fee. That was enough. More than enough. The warmth of another person, without any emotion, was good enough to make her feel calm and restful. Mika had to admit that if she left Bangkok right now, she would miss this masseuse, whose name she didn’t even know, more than her husband.

Mika had heard people say that Thai massage is a temporary cure for tiredness. It does not solve a fundamental problem. So what? Mika thought. A fundamental problem cannot be solved easily. But it’s much better to feel good even for a short while than spend all my time hopeless in a dark hole… Mika felt like crying. Then the masseuse’s big hands patted her shoulders and back. A sign of the end of the massage. Oh, please don’t stop. Another round, please. Sabai dee mai khap? (Do you feel better?)” The warm voice spoke above and behind her. “Yes, yes. Sabai dee. (I feel better.) Khob khun kha. (Thank you.)” Mika gave a 200B tip to the masseuse, quite generous for Thai standards, and took a deep breath before stepping out into the blinding sunlight.

To contact the author and find out more about Bangkok Madam please write to: [email protected]

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