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No ‘one size’ climate solution

Cambodian students go to school by boat in the rain at a flooded village in Kandal province last month.

Developing countries such as Cambodia should not pin their hopes on world leaders reaching a consensus on emissions reductions during upcoming climate change talks in Copenhagen, an international law firm warned Wednesday.

Instead, Cambodia must look at how it can take advantage of the global debate to ensure potentially valuable emissions reduction projects get off the ground, a new report from the Australian firm Allens Arthur Robinson argues.

“I think there has been a disproportionate emphasis on targets” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, said Grant Anderson, a partner in the firm.

The report adds another voice to the fray as global leaders prepare to descend on Copenhagen in hopes of thrashing out an agreement that would take the world beyond 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol expires.

Investment potential
The bulk of the debate so far has focused on mandating emissions cuts in developed countries, with world powers pushing differing targets and baselines.

The Allens Arthur Robinson report argues the emphasis on hard targets is too simplistic and that countries should instead detail specific actions they will take to control their emissions.

“Countries should adopt climate change initiatives that are compatible with their economic development goals and their individual circumstances,” Anderson said.

The report examines climate change regulations through the Asia-Pacific region and concludes that, when it comes to environmental policy, “one size does not fit all”.

Thailand, for example, is aiming to become the region’s renewable energy hub by aggressively promoting its biofuel industry, the report stated.

Energy-poor Cambodia however, where the majority of the population lacks stable electricity, has differing concerns than most others in the region.

Cambodia, Anderson said, should focus on taking advantage of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), enacted under Kyoto, which allows industrialised countries to invest in emissions reductions projects in developing nations through the trading of certified carbon credits.

Currently, the Kingdom has only five projects registered under the scheme or in the pipeline. By comparison, neighbouring Thailand has 115, while Vietnam is host to 91 projects, according to the UN Environment Programme.

“Poorer countries haven’t really had a huge amount of CDM investment yet,” Anderson said.

The primary CDM market topped US$6.5 billion in 2008, according to the World Bank.



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