Government officials yesterday pointed to developing countries as the main culprits behind climate change and claimed such nations should provide the majority of finan-cing for protecting the Kingdom from the issue.
“We are a victim of the problems of the rich,” Environment Minister Mok Mareth said in his concluding remarks to the National Climate Change Forum in Phnom Penh. “Cambodia has not been the cause of climate change – the image of flooding is enough to show that we should all act now.”
The Kingdom is suffering from its worst floods in at least a decade. The death toll had climbed to 169 people, National Committee for Disaster Management cabinet chief Keo Vy said yesterday, with 68 of the victims aged under 15.
In the wake of the crisis, many officials who spoke during the conference placed a heavy emphasis on the obligation of developed countries and donors to help accelerate climate change protection activities.
Climate change department director Sum Thy said developed countries should donate 1.5 per cent of their GDP to help combat climate change and least-developed countries should receive 70 per cent of all the aggregated donations.
“Climate change is a hot topic in the world because of the dangerous effect on human development,” Mok Mareth told the forum.
“The flooding is very serious, and without developing countries’ help we will face a big holocaust.”
Irregular flooding seen in the Kingdom since 2009 was one result of climate change, Keo Vy said. But Mok Mareth said flooding was also caused by the “anarchic activities of people”, such as filling in rivers or lakes or clearing forested areas.
When asked by the Post how economic land concessions, such as those granted to clear land for plantations, related to these “anarchic activities”, Mok Mareth said the Ministry of Envir-onment had received a “green light” from the government on the need for agro-investment.
“Plantations create a physical boundary between protected areas and plantations,” he said.
“Plantations are only in heavily degraded areas, and it is better to have monoculture than a heavily degraded area.”
Natural Resource Protection Group director Chut Wutty said the minister’s comments were evidence the forum was all talk.
“On one hand, you have all this talk about climate change and stopping deforestation, and on the other hand you have them cutting down forests every day in wildlife sanctuaries and protected areas,” he said.
“They continue with the land concessions every day.”
Rafael Morono, charge d’affaires from the delegation of the European Union, said collective action was a key issue for climate change.
“The work within the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance [which ran the forum] is to identify the hot spots for climate change and co-ordinate efforts together,” he said.
“It can be easy to just criticise the administration,” Morono added.