Funding a priority at COP22 climate conference

Source: Phnom Penh Post

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King Norodom Sihamoni delivers a speech at the UN climate talks (COP21) in Paris last year, where he called for adaptation and mitigation financing for the Kingdom to meet its emissions targets. Alain Jocard/AFP

A Cambodian delegation arrived in Morocco yesterday for the start of the COP22 international climate change conference armed with reasons why the country should receive international funding to fight global warming.

“We will deliver a statement at COP22, and one of the points is for the developed countries to provide $100 billion a year in climate finance to developing countries,” said the National Council for Sustainable Development’s Tin Ponlok.

Cambodia submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) – the country’s commitments and plans for reducing planet-warming carbon emissions and fighting climate change – in the lead-up to the Paris climate conference, COP21, last year.

Cambodia pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 27 percent from projected levels by 2030, and to increase the country’s forest cover from 47 to 60 percent. In its effort to meet these targets, Cambodia will rely heavily on its 2014-2023 Climate Change Strategic Plan, Minister of Environment Say Samal said in a message yesterday. But Samal said a long-term roadmap for 2030 should also be developed.

Still, government officials say the plans are only possible with international assistance. “Our INDCs focus on both mitigation and adaptation, but with our mitigation projects, the commitment is conditional. We will implement them if there is financial support,” Ponlok said.

Cambodia has yet to ratify the Paris climate treaty, but officials say ratification is just a formality, and could take place shortly. “We’re working on it . . . Maybe by the end of this month,” said Ministry of Environment spokesman Sao Sopeaph.

With this in mind, Cambodia’s COP22 delegation will focus on simplifying the procedures for accessing international financing through the Green Climate Fund, which was set up by the UN to facilitate low-emission development.

Tek Vannara, executive director of the NGO Forum, said the Green Climate Fund will be instrumental in ensuring that Cambodia meets its climate commitments.

“There needs to be more funding for local groups to function sustainably, especially in places like the Prey Lang forest and the Cardamom Mountains,” Vannara said.

Concerns have been raised in the past about how the Cambodian government spends its aid, and Vannara noted yesterday that the international community will likely be pushing for good governance and transparency to ensure any climate funding is spent effectively.

Meanwhile, Mattias Söderberg, senior advocacy adviser for the Danish nonprofit DanChurchAid, which works on climate change in Cambodia and more than 100 other countries, said Cambodia’s presence at COP22 is crucial for mobilising that money. “Cambodia has an extremely important role to play due to its position as one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change,” he said.

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