World wide climate change – not a Cambodian problem?

Of course there are a lot of difficult issues under discussion in Cambodia: border controversies with neighboring countries, salaries and working conditions for the several hundred thousand workers in the textile industry, the gap between the higher level educational institutions’ teaching and the expectations of the business world to hire people for jobs where industry can provide employment, and the controversies related to the preparation and adoption of laws where many of the affected would have expected to also have their voices heard – all on the way to the next election – locally, and later also nationally in 2017.

So far, neither the English language media in Cambodia, nor general discussions among those who “play Facebook” did reflect much about the sequence of events leading to a major UN climate conference later this year.

The international community started to be concerned and to act together through the Kyoto Protocol – a document adopted on 11 December 1997 – part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which commits its signatory countries to set binding emission reduction targets: a first step towards a reduction of emissions into the air as these emissions lead to a gradual rise in air temperature. As a first global effort, the Kyoto Protocol was designed for the period of 2008 to 2012.

Things did not proceed smoothly – especially big industry in the economically highly developed countries saw their coal and oil industries attacked, and big developing countries like China saw the proposed climate protection measures as contrary to their own development goals.

Nevertheless, with the help of a UN based Climate Change Secretariat, based in Bonn/Germany, data continued to be collected internationally – which showed that the problems of climate change were becoming more and more serious: the warming of the air and of the seas, the melting of ice at the polar regions, severe weather problems in many regions of the world.

By the end of August of this year 2015, weather data collected all over the world, indicate that “five of the first seven months of this year have now been the hottest on record, including February, March, May, June and now July.” In addition, January was the second warmest and April was the third warmest in the period since air temperatures are recorded all over the world.

Following upon the previously discussed goals – and the failures to implement them broadly, a United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015, taking up the efforts since the Kyoto Protocol 1997. The objectives of this meeting are set very high: to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on caring for the climate of the world, by all nations of the world.

In view of the opposition against imposing too many controls by the main industrial polluters, there has  not been much hope that such high goals could be reached – until the leaders of the “G7 countries,” seven countries with highly advanced economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the USA, after meeting for two days in Germany, surprised the world with their resolution:

On climate change, the G7 leaders pledged in a communique after their two-day meeting to develop long-term low-carbon strategies and abandon fossil fuels by the end of the century.

“We commit to doing our part to achieve a low-carbon global economy in the long-term, including developing and deploying innovative technologies striving for a transformation of the energy sectors by 2050.”

The leaders invited other countries to join them in their drive, saying they would … intensify their support for vulnerable countries’ own efforts to manage climate change.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel (C), U.S. President Barack Obama and other G7 summit participants and outreach delegates pose for a family picture at the G7 summit at the Elmau castle in Kruen near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, June 8, 2015.
Reuters/Christian Hartmann


But how to move from such general declarations to specific actions?

During these days, from 19 to 13 October 2015, talks are being held in Bonn/Germany to prepare a text for the UN meeting of the government representatives of the world in Paris/France starting on 30 November, to vote on and to decide what is actually to be done from now on into the next decades.

Such complex decisions, of course, cannot be formulated during the few days when the world leaders meet – the text for the resolution is being elaborated during the long preparatory period.

When a condensed draft of only 20 pages – from the thousands of pages of preparation – was released on Tuesday, 20 October 2015, there was a lot of protest because many of the hundreds of specific proposals of governments were not included in this final, brief, condensed draft.

But it was quickly agreed that all governments represented were permitted to insert their “must-have items” – and the new draft increased form 20 pages to almost the double: 34 pages.

Maybe a manageable document to be further refined by the end of November?

But who, in the Cambodian public, is concerned and involved?

We know only that many people feel that the weather in 2015 was not “normal” also in Cambodia.

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