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PM says climate change fight needed

A boy plays on arid farmland on the outskirts of Phnom Penh this week
A boy plays on arid farmland on the outskirts of Phnom Penh this week. Prime Minister Hun Sen stressed the importance of strong environmental policies to fight climate change yesterday. Vireak Mai

PM says climate change fight needed

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday called on students, civil society, and members of the public and private sectors to “come up with realistic recommendations” to bolster Cambodia’s resistance to the challenges presented by climate change.

Addressing a crowd of hundreds at the opening of the Third National Forum on Climate Change at the Peace Palace, the premier stressed the urgent need for such recommendations, and made the case, as have other international bodies, that climate change is likely to hit Cambodia hard.

The speech and forum comes less than a week before diplomats are set to gather in Warsaw for meetings of parties to the Kyoto Protocol and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – meetings that the premier expressed hope that NFCC could “provide inputs to”.

“Climate change is no longer a remote case, but is affecting all of us in the present and [becoming] one of the grave challenges that must be addressed in the 21st century,” he said, adding that recent widespread floods “add new evidence to show the severity of climate change”.

Participants listen to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s recommendations during the opening of the Third National Forum on Climate Change at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh
Participants listen to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s recommendations during the opening of the Third National Forum on Climate Change at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Even as floodwaters blanketed large parts of Cambodia last month, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report saying that in Southeast Asia “extreme precipitation events will very likely be more intense and more frequent”.

A June report from the World Bank similarly stated that “the wet season is expected to become wetter, and the dry season drier”, and that “the largest increase in extreme precipitation” would occur over Cambodia.

In yesterday’s speech, Hun Sen encouraged emissions reductions and “green growth”, and said that the nation was working with partners on a carbon trading scheme and managing protected natural areas.

However, such measures may be easier said than done. In June, Dr Paul Dargusch of the International Energy Centre said the economic slump in Europe and increasing competition from other emerging markets made this a bad time for Cambodia to enter the carbon offset market.

But Cambodia is taking steps, said Environment Minister Say Sam Al, whose remarks preceded Hun Sen’s. In recent years, he said, the ministry has raised some $250 million for projects designed to fight climate change.

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