Energy-hungry Cambodia shows no sign of backing down on coal

(Eco Business, 13 Sep 2018) As Cambodia’s economy goes through a rapid expansion with foreign investments pouring in, the country is turning to polluting coal power to meet growing energy demands, risking the health of the people and the welfare of the environment.

At the 23rd UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) in November last year, many countries around the world made their pledges for the coal power phase-out to curb the global greenhouse gas emissions, and ultimately keep global temperature increases within 2°C or, if possible, to 1.5°C of pre-industrial levels under the 2015 Paris Agreement. Environmental groups also called upon Southeast Asian countries to join the effort in order to keep the region safe from climate change‘s threats.

Coal-fired power plants are the most polluting way to produce electricity, and burning coal is the most prominent contributor to climate change. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 7 million people die every year due to air pollution, which is mainly caused by “the inefficient use of energy by households, industry, the agriculture and transport sectors, and coal-fired power plants.”

However, according to the report by ASEAN Center for Energy (ACE), in Southeast Asia, coal is projected to rise from 47 gigawatts (GW) in 2013 to 261 GW in 2035, which means each country is moving in the opposite direction to construct more coal-fired power plants.

Cambodia is one example. As a least developed country, it becomes even more reliant on coal-fired power, deeming it as the key factor to bringing an end to energy shortage in the future amid rapid economic growth.

According to Cambodian National Strategic Development Plan 2014-2018, the Royal government of Cambodia has committed to an ambitious goal of achieving nationwide electrification by 2020, providing all villages across the country access to electricity.

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Eco Business, 13 Sep 2018: Energy-hungry Cambodia shows no sign of backing down on coal