Promoting low emissions rice production in Thailand

In 2020, Thailand submitted its updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the UNFCCC. Initially, Thailand intended to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from the projected business-as-usual (BAU) level by 2030. In the updated NDC, Thailand states that this target could be increased to 25% with technology, financial, and capacity-building support.  

Thailand is the fourth-largest emitter of CO2 emissions from rice cultivation in the world after China, India, and Indonesia. Rice cultivation accounts for 57.7% of the total GHG emission generated from agricultural activity. As the main staple and a key commodity of Thailand, it is critical to secure a sustainable supply of rice in the long run while adopting a more sustainable rice production approach. 

Although Thailand does not explicitly mention its rice in its NDC commitment, the government has set a goal of reducing GHG emissions from rice by 26%.  

Thailand is working with CCAC partners and local experts to improve the sustainability of Thailand’s rice sector by reducing GHG emissions, namely methane emissions, through mitigation measures. This work builds on the Thai Rice NAMA and Thai-German Climate Programme – Agriculture (TGCP-Agriculture).


This project will support Thailand to reach its NDC target by identifying and supporting the implementation to mitigate short-lived climate pollutants, namely methane, from the rice sector by fostering sustainable rice cultivation management on farmer level, and by improving the capacity of the respective agencies to scale up the SLCP mitigation packages. 

This will be achieved by supporting the private sector on SLCP mitigation with decision support tools and by identifying opportunities to scale up SLCP mitigation packages at the national scale. 

What we are doing

Since 2020, this project has helped Thailand: 

  • Conduct a country-specific scoping study on SLCP mitigation to assess the feasibility and evaluate the technical potential of packages of SLCP mitigation measures to the national context
  • Develop MRV capacity for rice methane mitigation, building on technology packages and tools developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) - specific support will be provided for the development of MRV tools to support the upscaling of rice methane mitigation, including: the development of a digital platform to integrate databases and software into a user-friendly and custom-made MRV tool, and assessment of existing MRV components for suitability for large-scale mitigation interventions
  • Prepare project ideas targeting a transformative change for low-emission rice production for Thailand using the scoping study as a technical basis and identify finance strategies

Why we are doing this work

Rice is a staple for more than half of the world’s population and forms an essential part of the diet in most Asian countries including Thailand, and it is responsible for 10% of global anthropogenic methane emissions each year. Methane emissions from rice production amount to 36.4 Mt CO2-eq per year for Thailand. Through wide-scale adoption of water management practices such as alternate wetting and drying (AWD), the rice sector could mitigate as much as 48% of global methane emissions from paddy rice. However, rice management is frequently cited without specifics on how mitigation will be achieved, indicating a need for greater clarity in technology assessment, impact monitoring, and capacity building in this area. 

Thailand has a rice NAMA project underway that focuses on applying alternate wetting and drying and the sustainable rice platform standard for Sustainable Rice Cultivation, incorporating the use of complementary technologies in the approach as a means to maximize the mitigation effect, with a view to contributing towards NDCs from agriculture under the Paris Agreement on climate change. 

Private sector engagement is widely recognized as a decisive factor in driving technology adoption and upscaling. This holds true for low-emission field management in rice because rice supply chain actors and input providers have distinct interests in promoting wide-scale uptake of best practices at the farm level. Moreover, large parts of the rice value chain, e.g. milling, are in the hand of private enterprises. However, as is seen for other agricultural commodities, limited information exchange and coordination among the many rice value chain actors frequently constrain short-lived climate pollutant mitigation efforts. 

Pollutants (SLCPs)