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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Climate action plan needed

Climate action plan needed

121012_07
A man plants a tree in a parched field in Prey Veng province in April, 2012. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said Asian countries should find ways to mitigate climate change. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said yesterday that climate change will be a concern in some Asian countries, including Cambodia.

He encouraged the countries to find ways to manage any affects on their economies. Economists recognise it will lower growth in some main sectors of the economy – especially the agricultural sector.

"I was surprised even in the last six months; the data on climate change has become ever more frightening. Things that we thought would only happen with higher temperature changes are happening now," said Kim during a press briefing at the 2012 IMF-WB Annual Meeting in Tokyo.

He said droughts that have resulted in increased food prices were caused by man-made climate change. And, 97 per cent of scientists agree that man-made climate change is real – “[this is a] frightening amount of unanimity”.

“I think we have to begin looking hard at what the world is going to look like for our children,” Kim said.

According to Kim, focusing efforts on mitigation and adaptation are important.

“Our task is to find ways of encouraging ever greater efforts in both mitigation and adaptation to climate change but mitigation is really critical,” he said. “Can we find ways of creating enormous markets for new technologies focused on mitigation of climate change? I think there are tremendously exciting possibilities."

These technologies are paths to economic growth, he said.

“We simply have to find those opportunities, we have to encourage the best and brightest companies and countries to seize that opportunity and understand that the path to economic growth could very well be in engaging in finding new technologies, new approaches to mitigate climate change.”

Chan Sophal, director the of Cambodian Economic Association, recognised that the current climate definitely affects some areas of economic growth. “Of course, it is a concern in terms of the growth of the economy,” he said. “It will definitely affect the farmers who are very vulnerable.

“Of course, it will mostly hit the agricultural sector,” added Chan Sophal.

The key to dealing with these effects are putting in place measures to make the sector more resilient, he said.

“I think our country has not properly dealt with natural disasters – like floods or droughts. We just see relief when there is damage. What we need is resilience help – requiring the government to build good irrigation channels so that when it floods or a drought happens, the farmers can continue to cultivate,” he added.

Drought has hit 11 of the 24 provinces in Cambodia and affects tens of thousands of hectares of rice seedlings, according to the National Committee for Disaster Management.

Cambodia’s government plans to export more than 1 million tons of milled rice, however, there are many challenges, flood and drought being two of them.

Cambodia’s exports of milled rice dropped about 35 per cent in the first half of this year to 78,000 tonnes, compared to 120,000 tonnes during the corresponding period in 2011, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries show that in 2011, Cambodia produced 7.8 million tonnes of paddy rice with a surplus of 4.34 million tonnes, which is equal to 2.78 million tonnes of milled rice.

The World Bank recently revised Cambodia’s economic growth down from 6.9 per cent earlier to 6.6 per cent this year and 6.7 per cent in 2013.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Kunmakara at kunmakara.may@phnompenhpost.com

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