Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday called for stronger cooperation in implementing the ASEAN-US Joint Statement on Climate Change, noting that the phenomenon is “obviously happening”.
The statement, adopted last November, calls on ASEAN members to implement 33 points, such as ratifying Kyoto Protocol goals and enhancing forest protection.
“This year, a number of countries in Asia-Pacific have been affected by El Niño, which has caused a water scarcity and impacted on the agriculture sector,” the premier said, according to a transcript of his remarks posted on his Facebook page, adding that the issue “requires enhancing cooperation amongst all relevant stakeholders”.
However, experts yesterday said that ASEAN countries’ differing levels of political will on climate change makes unified policies difficult.
“It’s a hot-button issue for [US President Barack] Obama, so it’s a logical thing to bring up,” said Carlyle Thayer, an expert on Southeast Asian relations.
According to Thayer, while some governments in ASEAN, such as Vietnam, see climate change as an imminent existential threat, others don’t see it as immediate and pressing enough to spend money on.
Ian Thomas, a technical adviser with the Mekong River Commission, cited the struggle between Thailand and Laos – who want to build more Mekong hydro-electric dams – against Cambodia and Vietnam, who worry about sediment loss and the destruction of fisheries.