Cambodia Highlights Measures Needed at COP28, Calls for Decisive Action

Minister of Environment Eang Sophalleth speaks at the United Nations climate change conference on Dec. 9. Photo: Ministry of Environment

PHNOM PENH – Cambodia has made progress in the fight against climate change such as cancelling the construction of a coal power plant, embarking on a clean energy transition, and planting more trees, Minister of Environment Eang Sophalleth said at the United Nations climate change conference on Dec. 9 as he called for decisive actions to be taken.

Speaking at the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Dubai, Sophalleth said that, as a responsible member of the global community, Cambodia is dedicated to playing key roles in the international efforts to address the climate change emergency.

Cambodia had embarked on a clean-energy transition, he said, achieving 62 percent of renewable energy capacity, and is committed to advancing the sustainability of the country’s energy sector.

Sophalleth told the delegates that Cambodia has recently cancelled a 700MW coal-powered project and intends to raise renewable energy share to 70 percent by 2030, which is double the ASEAN benchmark set for 2025, and to reduce electricity consumption by 19 percent by 2030 through efficiency measures and broader electrification in sectors such as transportation, agriculture and industry.

“Additionally, we uphold our commitment not to construct hydropower plants on the Mekong River,” he said, referring to Cambodia’s policy not to have any hydro dam on this crucial river.   

Cambodia also joined regional efforts to tackle climate change and took the lead as chair of ASEAN in 2022 to produce green deals.

To move toward net zero emissions, Sophalleth said that Cambodia is focusing on ensuring a just transition for the workforce, prioritizing the needs of women and other vulnerable groups. The investment in resilient infrastructure is key to this effort as it will transform cities into more sustainable and livable environments, he said.

Moreover, the minister stressed that Cambodia is dedicated to climate-smart growth, decarbonizing supply chains and fostering a green economy.

Supporting this initiative is Cambodia’s green strategy whose aims is to plant more than 1 million trees yearly to achieve 60 percent forest cover and be a carbon-neutral country by 2050, he said.

Sophaleth called for further increasing mitigation ambitions, accelerating adaptation actions, and seeing losses and damages be given serious consideration. This means that the $100 billion per year commitment is the top priority, he said. According to the commitment set at COP15 in 2009, developed countries would mobilize $100 billion to help developing countries tackle the climate change emergency by 2020. It was later extended to 2025 during COP21 in Paris.  

“Cambodia, alongside other nations, has made progress in line with the Paris Agreement and yet emissions are still too high to prevent temperature rising above a key threshold of 1.5 degree Celsius,” he said.

As the opportunity for effective climate intervention is narrowing, Sophaleth said, decisive action is needed now. “We urge COP28 to mark a beginning of unprecedented global cooperations for climate resilience, ensuring the well-being of communities and the health of our planet,” he said.       

The conference, which started on Nov. 30, ends on Dec. 12. 

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