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Campaigners in Cambodia Demand Climate Justice

By Soleak Seang

 

 

Some 400 people representing a cross sector of society in Cambodia gathered under the hot, sunny sky at a tcktcktck campaign event in Phnom Penh this week. They were calling on world leaders to reach a fair, ambitious, and binding global climate deal at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen later this week.

“Time to Act is Running Out! It’s Time for Climate Action!,” chanted the crowd.  

Many people could hear the loud chants from the Royal Palace and the Independence Monument, which stand a few hundred meters away. Some stopped by and watched while the campaigners formed an hourglass and the earth that’s trapped in the hourglass. It got more exciting when the campaigners ran down from the top to the bottom of the hourglass to demonstrate that the earth is dissolving like sand.

“World leaders are going halfway through the UN climate negotiations, but they are doing nowhere near enough to tackle the climate crisis,” said Brian Lund, East Asia regional director of Oxfam America. “So, we are calling on world leaders, especially leaders of rich countries who have more resources and technology, to increase their commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to provide more financing for poor countries like Cambodia to adapt to climate change.”

While the UN climate conference in Copenhagen has largely centered on emissions reductions, poor countries like Cambodia are focusing more on financing that could help their communities adapt.

“We are demanding that climate negotiators in Copenhagen press countries with major greenhouse gas emissions to take their fair shares and put money on the table to tackle the crisis,” said Boonny Tep, Executive Director of Save Cambodia Wildlife, and a participant of the event. “It is a crucial moment to join this global force to demand for a climate justice, and I hope today’s event as well as events like this around the world will encourage world leaders to reach a fair and safe climate deal at the UN conference.”

At the tcktcktck campaign event, Lund said that rich countries including America, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and some European countries must meet their global climate responsibilities and provide financing for developing countries like Cambodia, so that poor communities, especially small-scale farmers can protect themselves from the unavoidable consequences of climate change.

Cambodia is striving to rebuild itself after three decades of civil wars, which left almost two million Cambodians dead. Its development efforts are often hampered by natural disasters. Cambodia has been identified as one of the most vulnerable countries in Asia to climate change due to its (currently) low adaptive capacity and limited resources to address the issue. One in three Cambodians lives on less than a dollar a day and 80 percent of the population make their living in the agricultural sector.