Cambodia announced its commitment to accelerating climate action at home and abroad, as global concern about its adverse impacts grow, especially the effects of greenhouse gases on human life and the planet.

The commitment was reiterated by Ly Thuch – senior minister and first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) – at the 79th session of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). The session is being held from May 15-19 in the Thai capital Bangkok.

Thuch, in his capacity as the UNESCAP national committee, said the adverse effects of greenhouse gases pose a risk to the planet and millions of people, especially those in the Asia and the Pacific region. Cambodia has also suffered from the climate change crisis.

“In just the past 12 months, we have seen historic floods in Pakistan, severe droughts in China, and strong typhoons in the Philippines. These disasters have affected hundreds of millions of people, changing their livelihoods and making it impossible for them to return to their homes,” he added.

He noted that Cambodia had received early season rainfall that affected rice yields. The Kingdom has also experienced extreme heat and floods and droughts that seriously affected infrastructure systems, the economy and development.

“We have been building a climate-resilient economic foundation and have adapted plans to boost resilience in all sectors. Cambodia is modernising its agricultural techniques, expanding its transport infrastructure and advancing the implementation of sustainable tourism. We have also increased our hydropower generation by 40 per cent, and built more dams.

“Cambodia has set itself the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 27 per cent by 2030 and increasing the use of renewable energy by 70 per cent by 2050, under the Paris Agreement,” he said.

Thuch added that Cambodia has established technical teams to address climate issues across the country. The teams are tasked with adapting and reducing climate change through reforestation, sustainable urbanisation and water resource management.

He said the government intends to strengthen multilateralism with the UN for the sake of international solidarity on climate action, noting that the work needs to be accelerated in order to support sustainable development and promote peace and prosperity among the global community.

Heng Kimhong, a research and advocacy programme manager at the Cambodian Youth Network, said Cambodia’s commitment to addressing climate change is important, as it is a global threat.

“Unfortunately, deforestation continues to occur. This is a major issue that needs to be brought under control. However, it is also important that the Kingdom increase the use of clean energy,” he said.

He suggested that the government pay closer attention to its previous commitments, such as those made at the COP26 and 27 meetings, and other agreements associated with gas emissions and carbon neutrality.