Watering a patch of vegetables at her home in Kandal province one recent day, Phann Chivoin mused on the rapid change in weather lately.
“It’s strange when it turns so cool one time and then turns very hot quickly,” the 28-year-old farmer said. “When it changes so quickly, vegetable growers like me get low yields because weather that is neither too cold nor too hot is good for our plants.”
Cambodia’s farmers have noticed a change in the climate. When it rains, it rains hard and suddenly, and the air seems hotter, they say. Some farmers think this might be a natural change in the weather, but in a climate change forum held in Phnom Penh later this month, more than 40 international experts will bring their views to bear on the problem.
So while Phann Chivoin may blame the weather on typhoons, climate specialists point to the problem of global warming.
Ouk Navann, team leader for greenhouse gas mitigation at the Ministry of Environment’s climate change office, said the effect of global warming is already apparent.
“Cambodia can no longer resist the negative effects of climate change,” he said, adding that in the past 40 years, Cambodia’s average temperature has increased 0.6 degrees Celsius.
An Environment Ministry assessment predicts a continued increase, from 1.35 degrees to 2.5 degrees, by 2100. Annual rainfall could increase anywhere from 3 percent to 35 percent, it says.
“We have already experienced the direct effect of climate change,” Ouk Navann said, pointing to recent damage done by Typhoon Ketsana, whose storms killed at least 17 Cambodians. “So we can’t just ignore global warming.”
Cambodia’s first-ever climate change forum begins Oct. 19 in Phnom Penh. The three-day forum is aimed at raising awareness among the general public and integrating global warming issues into the national development plan.
At least 700 participants are expected, including national and international climate experts, and officials expect to call on industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions.