Southeast Asian environment ministers met in Hua Hin, Thailand, on Monday, September 7, 2009, to discuss haze problems and the possibility of establishing a regional working group on climate change to foster regional cooperation in mitigating global warming, the ASEAN Secretariat said in a statement.
On regional haze problem, the ministers said they pledged to remain vigilant and will continue to monitor the situation in the region amid El Nino, though they also acknowledged that the end of the dry season in the southern part of the region in October and the onset of the rainy season in November would gradually ease hot spot activities. However, drier conditions are expected to return to the Mekong sub-region in late 2009. This is likely to lead a gradual escalation in hotspot activities in the region, the ministers said.
The meeting also assessed the impact of climate change on member-countries, particularly in terms of extreme typhoons, El Niño and transboundary haze pollution. In a joint statement, the ministers agreed the adverse impact of climate change will directly affect economies of Asean members struggling to cope with the devastating effects of the global financial crisis. The jointed statement also encouraged ASEAN members to create common understanding on climate change issues, and where possible, to engage in joint efforts and common positions on these issues. The ministers said they welcomed the proposed terms of reference of the ASEAN Climate Change Initiative and also the proposed establishment of an ASEAN working group on climate change, which will be brought to consideration next month during their eleventh meeting in Singapore. Thailand has offered to chair the working group.
The Asean environment ministers will meet again in Singapore in late October to firm up common policy and action plans of the regional bloc on climate-change issues.