Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia trip can be carbon heavy for careless travellers



Cambodia trip can be carbon heavy for careless travellers

Cambodia trip can be carbon heavy for careless travellers

Buying locally is one way for tourists to reduce carbon footprint, an an oportunity exists for businesses looking to cash in on conscience

Cambodia's level of carbon emissions are relatively small at less than 2 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per capita per year, but as the tourism industry grows, so does the rate of carbon emissions.

According to GERES Climate Change Unit Manager Minh Cuong Le Quan, tourism directly affects climate change on two accounts. "One is direct emissions from the travel of the tourists," he said, with air travel making a particularly high contribution.

According to the Lonely Planet, a couple flying from London to New York adds 2.68 tonnes of CO2 to their carbon footprint, or over a quarter of the average UK household's yearly emissions.

As tourists visit restaurants and hotels, and travel between them, they also add to domestic consumption of fossil fuels, further adding to Cambodia's total greenhouse gas emissions, Le Quan said.

The first thing to do is take an honest look at one’s own practices.

But there are also additional, more subtle ways that tourism increases Cambodia's energy consumption, he added, as tourists maintain their first world, high-consumption lifestyles.
"People tend to take showers the same way and take baths the same way they would in the West or Northeast Asia," Le Quan offered as an example.  

Steps to reduce footprints

Le Quan suggested ways that tourists can lessen their carbon footprint. "The first thing to do is take an honest look at one's own practices," he said. "This begins by using the least-polluting modes of transportation."

According to Le Quan,  economy class seats are two times less polluting than business class seats on airlines, and three times less polluting than first class.

He also recommended staying in "environment friendly" hotels, though recognised this could be difficult in Camboida due to an absence of any specific "climate friendly" labels.

However, a number of hotels and restaurants have already gone beyond the usual eco-friendly standards, he said, including properties owned by the FABS Group and the Foreign Correspondents Club in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

It is also more environmentally friendly to buy Cambodian-made products and crafts instead of imports, and tourists can also give money to carbon offset programs, which GERES is involved with.

"The idea is good," said Le Quan, but added that potential donors look carefully at the organisations they are giving money to, pointing out that many are for-profit businesses.

Getting off easy

Some critics of carbon offsetting have compared such donations to the payment for papal pardons.

"This is a valid criticism," Le Quan said. "If you just keep going your own way and just offset because you've got money to spend on it and want to feel good about it, that's a pardon."

Instead, he suggests reducing consumption before paying for offsets.

To Le Quan, adopting climate friendly practices is an opportunity for businesses. "It's an opportunity to the structure of companies to answer to the new economy which is emerging this century, which is socially and environmentally responsible," he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a

  • Textile industry minimum wage now $200

    The official minimum wage for workers in textile-related sectors including garment, footwear, and travel goods for 2023 was pegged at $198, with Prime Minister Hun Sen stepping in to add $2 to the total, making it $200 per month. The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training made the announcement