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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

PM: Cambodia Is 'Victim' Of Climate Change


Cambodia is a "victim" of climate change, and developed countries should shoulder more responsibility in reversing the effects of global warming, said Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Developing countries like Cambodia have been severely affected by climate change and lack the resources to tackle the problem on their own, Hun Sen said at the opening ceremony Monday at the country's first National Forum on Climate Change.

"The rich countries should be more responsible, as they have more resources to settle this matter. Cambodia is not the country responsible for climate change but is the victim. ... The huge countries should not blame less-developed countries," he said.

Hun Sen said rising temperatures, shifts in rainfall patterns and surging sea levels would only continue to hit developing countries like Cambodia the hardest.

"Developed countries certainly must accept most of the blame for causing the problem," Geoffrey Blate, climate change coordinator for the Greater Mekong program of the conservation group WWF, told the Phnom Penh Post. "At the same time, Cambodia can and should take immediate steps to address climate change. The problem is global in scope."

Hun Sen noted that in 2006 Cambodia implemented a program of climate change adaptation, which includes 39 projects to respond to the immediate needs of its communities. The premier said he was encouraged that the European Union is considering a budget of $2 billion to $15 billion annually to help poor countries implement their climate change adaption measures.

Hun Sen's comments come ahead of December's climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, in which world leaders will attempt to strike a new global climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Observers at the Cambodia forum said they hoped it would help bolster the country's bargaining position ahead of the Copenhagen talks. Ministry of Environment officials are expected to present Cambodia's draft position on climate change at the forum's conclusion on Wednesday.

"Cambodia needs to have a strong voice in international negotiations and demand that developed countries meet their historical responsibility and provide financing for adaptation," said Brian Lund, regional director of Oxfam's East Asia office, the Post reports.

Cambodia's Environment Minister Mok Mareth linked climate change to devastating weather events over the past two decades.

From 1987 to 2007 the country experienced 12 floods that claimed the lives of 1,125 people and caused $300 million in damages, Mareth said. The country also faced five severe droughts, causing $140 million in damages, he said.

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