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Cambodia Steps Forward in Green Debate

Cambodia will raise at least three climate issues at an international conference later this year in Denmark, officials said Wednesday, as they closed a three-day forum on climate change in Phnom Penh.

Cambodia will seek technology transfers for poorer countries, financial aid without conditions and adherence to Kyoto Protocol principles.

“Cambodia needs legal assurances and support in dealing with, mitigation of and adaptation to climate change,” Environment Minister Mok Maret told reporters.

UN-sponsored talks will take place among 192 members of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen in December.

Cambodia would continue to implement existing mechanisms and follow the protocol under the framework, Mok Maret said.

Under the agreement, Cambodia is not obligated to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but it nevertheless has incentives to do so, through a “Clean Development Mechanism” and with the chance to sell carbon credits to industrial nations and international markets.

Cambodia is implementing six clean development projects, including the Angkor Bio Cogen Rice Husk Power Project, in Kandal province, and TTY Cambodia Biogas, in Kampong Cham province.

Nop Polin, a national climate change officer for Oxfam America, said Cambodia is right to demand that rich countries give more financial assistance to cope with climate change, but he said the country can earn more money from donors by cutting greenhouse-gas emissions.

“I think it is an opportunity for developing countries like Cambodia to get more funding in the forms of credits when they have more and attractive [CDM] projects,” he said. “But so far there are so few projects and it’s so complicated in implementing them.”

Jo Scheuer, UNDP country director, said Cambodia, though poor, could become a model country, which could have minimal emissions if energy efficiency could be integrated into business policies and investment plans.

He suggested a “Green City,” starting with Siem Reap.

“We can develop an integrated city plan combining both climate change mitigation and adaptation measures with the promotion of energy efficiency in hotels and restaurants,” he said on Wednesday, addressing the first forum on climate change. “We can equip every hospital, school and pagoda with solar panels and solar water heaters and promote the use of improved cook stoves and water filters in the city and suburbs.”

Mok Maret said Cambodia was “on the way to a low carbon or even a carbon-free economy.”