With the forthcoming launch of the Circular Environmental Strategy 2023-28, Cambodia demonstrates its dedication to addressing the climate change crisis. The government aspires to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, in response to the climate challenges affecting the country and the world.

Minister of Environment Eang Sophalleth articulated the government’s commitment during the Cambodia Climate Change Summit 2023 (CCCS23), held in Siem Reap on November 3 and attended by diplomats, over 300 meteorologists and expert representatives from various institutions. Their shared commitment was outlined in a joint press release issued by the environment ministry, embassies and participating organisations.

Sophalleth underscored that as the climate crisis looms globally, Cambodia is dedicated to addressing this issue within its borders and across the region. The government has formulated a comprehensive strategy to achieve a 41.7 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, aligning with the Pentagonal Strategy-Phase I. A significant component of this approach is the upcoming Circular Environmental Strategy 2023-28, slated for launch on November 15.

“We must direct our attention towards practical actions to address the impacts of climate change on the affected communities, rather than solely concentrating on policy and strategy,” he remarked.

Australian ambassador to Cambodia Justin Whyatt said at the event that climate change stands as one of the world’s most formidable challenges. He said the symposium served as a platform for discussing practical measures to address its impacts, notably the carbon neutrality plan, while Australia collaborates with Cambodia through the CAPRED programme.

US ambassador to Cambodia W Patrick Murphy reaffirmed the US support for Cambodia’s climate change efforts, having invested over $100 million in international aid. A significant portion, exceeding $40 million, will be allocated to the sale of carbon credits, facilitating Cambodia in its pursuit of carbon neutrality.

Environment ministry secretary of state Sam In outlined the government’s far-reaching vision for combating climate change. This includes strategies like carbon neutralisation, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, conservation of natural resources, reforestation efforts and the transition from coal-based energy to cleaner alternatives, including the use of electric vehicles.

The government also intends to implement methods and techniques to diminish methane emissions from agricultural activities, advocating for the use of efficient machinery and vehicles to reduce emissions.

“Our government is taking a systematic approach, encompassing both political framework and tangible actions. We are committed to the restoration of forest cover, tree planting and the safeguarding of our forests,” In explained.

He said the ministry has been engaged in educating farmers and communities about the impacts of climate change. They are instructed on resilient farming practices to withstand adverse weather conditions and encouraged to establish ecotourism corridors. These corridors serve a dual purpose, attracting tourists while also serving as a means of preserving natural resources.

Heng Kimhong, research and advocacy programme manager at the Cambodian Youth Network (CYN) and a dedicated environmental activist, stands behind the country’s dedication to fighting climate change and safeguarding the environment. This, he points out, is a vital undertaking, supported by partner nations.

He said the matter of greenhouse gas emissions presents a significant challenge within the broader crisis. Cambodia, being directly impacted, should implement effective emission reduction measures. He said this is a valuable mechanism to secure a carbon-neutral programme. Cambodia possesses forest cover with a carbon stock capacity that can play a pivotal role in climate equilibrium. Therefore, the country, in collaboration with partner nations, should establish regulations to safeguard the Kingdom’s forest cover.

Kimhong urged the government to guarantee the absence of corruption in environmental preservation and the battle against climate change. He further appealed to Cambodia’s allied nations to ensure that investment firms operating in the Kingdom prioritise environmental preservation.

Notably, the CCCS23 sought to examine the role of international policies in formulating strategies to counteract the impacts of climate change within the country.