At the 27th UN climate change conference (COP27) in Egypt, Cambodia agreed to sell 15 million tonnes of carbon credits to international partners in order to offset their carbon emissions while reducing deforestation in the Kingdom through its REDD+ projects.

According to the Ministry of Environment, the Kingdom’s REDD+ projects were established with help from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Cambodia and Wildlife Alliance.

Minister Say Samal, who led the Cambodian delegation to the November 6-19 conference, said the proceeds from selling carbon credits would help the ministry implement effective policies that support the Kingdom’s efforts at reducing deforestation.

“As the world struggles to fulfil their commitments as stated in the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forestry and Land Use, Cambodia’s experience shows how REDD+ can help us to be ready to take care of our forest cover sustainably and with large-scale financing,” he said.

The REDD+ framework is a project developed by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) for offsetting carbon emissions by reducing deforestation and erosion of forest cover with conservation mechanisms for sustainable management that promote carbon stockpiles in developing countries.

REDD+ is a strategy in reducing the impacts of the climate change crisis that allows communities and governments to obtain voluntary carbon offset payments for emissions reductions achieved through forest protection projects.

Wildlife Alliance executive director Suwanna Gauntlett said Cambodia’s project has been independently verified and evaluated to ensure that the forest cover is actually protected and preserved, which will also help with the protection of endangered species.

“The REDD+ project will allow the economy to grow while it helps maintain the natural beauty of the country at the same time,” she said.

On November 16, Samal said Cambodia has contributed about 2.3 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to climate change adaption activities, increased the use of renewable energy, protected its forests and prepared legal documents, policies and plans such as its long-term strategy for carbon neutrality to address climate change. The Kingdom has also regularly updated its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) report on its implementation of the UNFCCC.

According to data from the International Carbon Credit Corporation, Cambodia has added an additional 1.19 million hectares to its available carbon credit supply, bringing the total area for the REDD+ project to encompass approximately one-third of the country’s total forest cover.

In this regard, Heng Kimhong, head of the Cambodian Youth Network’s (CYN) research and advocacy programme, believes that the presence of forest cover plays an important role – not only for Cambodia but the world – in mitigating climate change impacts.

“Based on the experience of selling carbon credits, Cambodia has used those revenues to benefit the community and the REDD+ programme is very important to improving the country’s image,” he said.

He said that to promote the sale of carbon credits more effectively and attract international buyers, Cambodia needs to further implement deforestation prevention programmes, otherwise it would be difficult to ensure the continuation of the carbon credit scheme.

He called on the ministry as well as the government to take strict measures to halt deforestation.

“If Cambodia’s forests are threatened with deforestation, international partners in need of carbon credits will stop buying from Cambodia,” he said.

In 2020, Cambodia was one of 72 countries to submit an updated NDC report to the UNFCCC Secretariat ahead of schedule. And in 2021, the Kingdom introduced its “Long Term Strategy for Carbon Neutrality (LTS4CN)” with a goal of zero emissions by 2050.