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Few Equate Climate Change With Its Causes: Study

FILE - In this July 19, 2007 file photo, an iceberg is seen melting off the coast of Ammasalik, Greenland. A new assessment of climate change in the Arctic shows the ice in the region is melting faster than previously thought and sharply raises projectio

The majority of Cambodians have little understanding of the causes of climate change, due to a lack of information, a new poll has found.

In a survey by the BBC World Service Trust of 2,401 Cambodians from all walks of life, about 85 percent said they had heard of climate change, although they associated it with disease, farming troubles and drought.

Very few respondents connected climate change or global warming with industry or vehicle use, according to the report, “Understanding Public Perception of Climate Change in Cambodia.”

More understanding could come from clear explanations, Charles Hamilton, country director for the World Service Trust, said in announcing the survey results in Phnom Penh this week.

“We need to keep the language straight forward and simple and not complex; like talking about the mitigation, adaption, what does that mean to a farmer or a fisherman?” he said. “They should be our main audience in Cambodia: these people with limited education who need to have clear information about what it means to their lives. It needs to be relevant.”

Environment Minister Mok Mareth said the report provided necessary information that would be helpful to the government and other institutions wanting to raise public awareness of climate change and its impacts.

“The stage is now set to guarantee that all Cambodians have access to reliable information about climate change,” he said. “ And we know the information to be conveyed needs to be understandable and relevant.”

Brian Lund, East Asia director for Oxfam America, said education and accurate, simple information play a crucial role in empowering people to adapt to and recover from the effects of climate change.