As politicians debate action on climate change, Cambodians rally in the capital city

By Oxfam

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Standing in a half-circle, surrounding the temple that gives Cambodia's capital city it's name, more than 100 people representing the Cambodian government, civil society organizations, and development groups demanded action on climate change last week. The groups shouted their expectations in English and Khmer in a stunt timed to coincide with the country's First National Forum on Climate Change.

Oxfam organized the event as part of the global climate change campaign, Tck Tck Tck, which has seen similar grassroots events around the world in the last few weeks, including the formation of a human hour glass outside of the UN General Assembly in New York City and a climate hearing attended by 10,000 people in Ethiopia last month. Each event has been designed to build momentum and attract attention to the needs of poor communities in the remaining weeks before the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (or CoP 15) to be held in Copenhagen this December.

"We're doing this because we want the public to pay more attention to climate change," said Brian Lund, regional director of Oxfam America's East Asia office in Phnom Penh, when speaking to the Cambodia Daily, the country's leading newspaper. "The developing world is taking the lead in discussing what should be negotiated in Copenhagen, and Cambodia has positioned itself extremely well as a leader in that discussion."

Lund explained that climate change contributes to the growing number of natural disasters in Southeast Asia -- such as the typhoons in the Philippines and Vietnam, also last month, which have displaced hundreds of thousands. Predictions forecast that weather-related natural disasters will only multiply and worsen in the future.

"As developing countries move to cope with climate change, they are drawing on their limited resources; they really do need the commitment of the rich countries. We need to see them put some money on the table now," Lund said.