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Tuesday 16 April 2024

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Participants walk through a screen broadcast of the opening ceremony of the United Nations Climate Change Summit, or COP28 In Dubai, United Arab Emirates on December 1, 2023. (Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)
Participants walk through a screen broadcast of the opening ceremony of the United Nations Climate Change Summit, or COP28 In Dubai, United Arab Emirates on December 1, 2023. (Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)

Cambodia is set to make seven commitments to combat climate change at the 28th United Nation’s COP28 climate conference, where tens of thousands of officials, entrepreneurs and activists started meeting this week.

Environment Minister Eang Sophalleth, who is representing Cambodia at the conference, told VOA via Telegram that he and other delegates from Phnom Penh would disseminate the country’s commitment widely during the two-week climate summit.

The minister said he would outline some of the steps during a speech on Dec. 9 or 10, but that some carried over from past conferences. “We just continue on with our commitments,” he added in the Dec. 1 message.

Cambodia’s environmental minister Eang Sophalleth talks to VOA Khmer during the United Nations Climate Change Summit or COP28 In Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on December 1, 2023. (Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)
Cambodia’s environmental minister Eang Sophalleth talks to VOA Khmer during the United Nations Climate Change Summit or COP28 In Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on December 1, 2023. (Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)

The seven commitments include:

  • Closing a 700-megawatt coal-fired power generation project and replacing it with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) factories.
  • Promote clean energy generation through the construction of dams to generate 1,000 megawatts of energy before 2028.
  • Increase the use of clean and renewable energy, such as energy from solar panels, hydropower and wind by 70 percent by 2030.
  • Implement components of the Clean Cambodia strategy by gradually reducing the use of plastic bags and organizing solid and liquid waste properly.
  • Implement Green Cambodia strategy by planting at least 1 million trees per year with the goal of expanding forest cover to 60 percent by 2050.
  • Ban the construction of coal-fired power plants in Cambodia and hydropower dam construction across the Mekong river.

The message added that the mission of the Cambodian delegates at COP28 is to show the country’s commitment to combating climate change, in turn attracting tourists and investors, while moving toward carbon neutral development by 2050.

Heng Kimhong, head of research and advocacy at the Cambodian Youth Network Association, applauded Cambodia's commitment to the seven points towards climate change mitigation. But he said action toward meeting those commitments would be the real test.

"Commitment alone is not enough until there are implementation and protection mechanisms, legal measures, professional civil servants and prevention of corruption in the energy sector and the protection of natural resources,” he added.

“Only after that there is a real direction to effectively carry out the state's policies and commitments."

Stakeholders from around the world are attending the United Nations Climate Change Summit, or COP28, at Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 1, 2023. (Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)
Stakeholders from around the world are attending the United Nations Climate Change Summit, or COP28, at Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 1, 2023. (Kann Vicheika/VOA Khmer)

COP28 will run from November 30 to December 12. The conference offers an annual opportunity for countries around the world to take stock of global progress toward cutting climate emissions, and reach new agreements aimed at accelerating that progress.

Among the overarching goals reached at past conferences are limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and achieving zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Yet the world is still warming faster than any other point in recorded history, leaving much work to be done.

Wealthy countries, which are largely responsible for climate change, have also pledged billions of dollars to help poorer countries adapt, though much of that funding has not been realized.

More than 90,000 participants have registered and are taking part in the conference, including business leaders, youth, climate scientists and journalists. More than 100 of them are from Cambodia, according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

This article is produced as part of the 2023 climate change media partnership, a reporting scholarship organized by the Internews Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security.

FILE - A kayaker paddles in Lake Oroville as water levels remain low due to continuing drought conditions in Oroville, California, Aug. 22, 2021.
FILE - A kayaker paddles in Lake Oroville as water levels remain low due to continuing drought conditions in Oroville, California, Aug. 22, 2021.

Satellite measurements show that 2021 was one of the warmest years on record, with the past seven years being the hottest period recorded globally.

The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said Monday that last year was the fifth-warmest year according to records dating back to 1850. It said average global temperatures in 2021 were 1.1 to 1.2 Celsius warmer than in the pre-industrial period from 1850 to 1900.

The hottest years on record were 2020 and 2016, according to the group.

C3S, which tracks global temperatures and other climate indicators, also reported that levels of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere continued to rise last year, hitting new highs.

The group found that 2021 was Europe's hottest summer on record. It followed an unusually cold April that wiped out fruit crops in some countries, including France and Hungary.

FILE - Seen in a long camera exposure, the Caldor Fire burns on Aug. 29, 2021, in Eldorado National Forest, Calif.
FILE - Seen in a long camera exposure, the Caldor Fire burns on Aug. 29, 2021, in Eldorado National Forest, Calif.

Scientists say higher temperatures can cause the air to absorb more moisture and lead to extreme rainfall. Last year saw flooding in several European countries, including Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Countries that signed the 2015 Paris Agreement have pledged to try to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures. Scientists say that would help the world avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

To reach that goal, the world would need to limit emissions by about half of current levels by 2030, according to scientists. However, the C3S said that emissions tracked higher in 2021, with the level of CO2 in the atmosphere reaching 414.3 parts per million, up 2.4ppm from 2020.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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