Over 100 students and climate change activists packed into a lecture hall at the Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Center at Royal University of Phnom Penh yesterday afternoon for a “public mobilisation” to raise awareness of Cambodia’s position at the UN Climate Talks in Paris (COP 21) which starts today.
According to Cambodia Climate Change Network (CCCN) coordinator Chhorm Chhun, the event was the first time Cambodians made a public display of solidarity with worldwide climate marches and vigils that take place on the eve of the annual UN negotiations.
Organisers said they had hoped the event would be more public, but the government denied requests for more public locations. Nevertheless, nearly 140 students turned up to listen to speakers and become more informed about Cambodia’s position at COP21.
“Your presence demonstrates that action for our planet is everybody’s business,” said CCCN chairman Tep Boonny in an address.
Narun, a 21-year-old mathematics student, said that it was his first time engaging with climate change activism.
“I worry about worsening floods and storms because of climate change,” he said while in line for a photo booth where participants could take pictures with signs bearing slogans such as “stop climate injustice”.
The “injustice” referred to how historic non-polluters like Cambodia are vulnerable to the consequences of emissions by the developed world.
“It is really important that youth understand climate change in Cambodia, to talk about the effect on us to people around the world,” said 26-year-old RUPP philosophy student Sek Porm.