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Like everyone know climate change is a very serious problem for all the countries; but how much does it effects on Cambodia as a small and poor country? And how can this country solve the problem? To deeply understand why it is, let’s briefly look at the overview of the climate change, why it is a big problem, the response that Cambodia have made, and finally we will examine on those initials whether they effective or not.
Firstly, it is important to look at the causes and effect of climate change. Climate change or generally known as global warming is a major issue facing by the globe, and has been addressed since the mid-20th century. In order to go into detail, firstly we should know what global warming first is. Global warming is a change in the statically weather over period of time that range from decades to millions of years. The word “global warming” and “climate change” have a little bit difference. In a modern term especially in a context of environmental policy, climate change usually refers to the changes in modern climate qualified by anthropogenic (human activities) generally known as “global warming” or “anthropogenic global warming” (AGW); whereas, climate change is a consequence resulting from global warming. In other word, climate change is a result from global warming. According to the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC), the global surface temperature has increased 0.74 degree Celsius to 0.18 degree Celsius during the 20th century, and this prediction will increase by 1.4 to 5.8 degree Celsius by the end of the 21st century. This increasing is caused by many factors but mainly from the human activities such as burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and land conversion for farming, and its effects on both animals and human health.
The global warming causes a serious impact on Cambodia. Naturally, the climate in Cambodia is tropical monsoon characterized by wet and dry, and there are two seasons in a country: rainy season happens from November through May, and dry season happens from June through October. There is usually rain in rainy season, but some months the amount of rainfall is much; some other months in rainy season is less, and there is usually much rainfall in low land areas. In addition, the rainfall is not regularly scheduled according the seasons. Sometimes there is rain even in the dry season. This is the result of human activities affecting to the climate. They rely heavily on the natural resources especially logging wood which release CO2 into atmosphere. Explicitly, the emission of such gases from deforestation is immense. Annual rainfall would increase, as a prediction, between 3 and 35% from current condition. The flood is consequence of this uncertain weather. Some provinces have already suffered from flood such as Prey Veng which is the most vulnerable one, Takeo, Battambang, Kampong Cham, Banteay Meanchey, and Kampong Thom. Moreover, it also destroys the crops, and infrastructure, and especially the human lives. As indicated in research, Cambodia was most attacked by flood was in 2000 that effected 3,448,629 of people, damaged 317, 975 houses and destroyed 7,068 houses and 347 deaths. Meanwhile, not only the rainy season the people suffer from but also the dry season which results in drought. The annual temperature is naturally between 22oC to 28oC the maximum. However, the rate is expected to increase from 0.7oC to 2.7oC until 2061. As a result some provinces are highly effected by drought such as : Battambang, Prey Veng, Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Cham, Kampong Speu. Beside flood and drought, the storm also happens but not frequently in Cambodia such as Typhoon. However, once it happened like in 2001, it destroyed 734 houses, 6 schools, two temples, and 1 death, 11 injured.
Regarding to this concern, Cambodia has taken several actions so far in the response to those disaster by joining cooperation both nationally and internationally. At the international level, Cambodia has ratified the United Nation Framework on Climate Change on 18 December, 1995 and entered into force on 17 March 1996. Moreover, Cambodia also acceded the Kyoto report on 2 July, 2002, and the Initial National Communication was submitted to the UNFCCC on 8 October 2002. The framework focused mainly on reducing the greenhouse gases emission from deforestation and from factories’ pollution, in which Cambodia contributes less than other countries. To make this work more effectively, Cambodia approved for the National Adaptation Program of Action on Climate Change (NAPA) in October 2006 with the four main sectors that have to focus on in NAPA such as agriculture, water resources, coastal zone, and human health. To implement these policies, Ministry of Environment is a focal point for NAPA. In addition, National Climate Change Committee (NCCC) was created on 24 April, 2006 under the sub-degree to coordinate, monitor, and implement the policies related to the UNFCCC. Beside these, Cambodian government also created the Cambodian Climate Change Office (CCCO) under the ministry of environment on 23 July 2003 as an institutional body to work closely with the relevant organizations working on the climate change issue in term of GHG emission.
At the local level, on the other hand, the government has also tried hard to initiate some programs such as training and development the awareness of climate change at the local villages, the plantation program in the climate change prone provinces such as Prey Veng, and Battambang, and a technique of using the animal mature as a stove gas instead of wood fuel. Also, the government funded by the donors tried to construct the infrastructure – bridges, and roads – damaged by the flood as a part of preventing further damages. Treatment and education about the health care are essential. Moreover, the National Committee for Disaster Risk Management was created in 1995 to provide the relief and preventive measure from losing lives and properties in the disaster in the district level. However, because of lack of finance support and technical assistance makes the plan difficult to be achieved
Four, meanwhile Cambodia is a poor country; therefore, we cannot implement or initiate any policy by its own for several reasons. First, it is the challenge from the gap of people in Cambodia. Well, it is hard have jobs worked smoothly because people still have low level of education; thus, they seem not to understand and see the results of the climate change. In addition, the most people that suffer most are those who live in rural areas rather that in the city, yet those people in city are hard to understand about the effects very clearly. Second, as a poor country we don’t have enough financial resources on combating on the various projects; we depend almost on the international assistances. Therefore, it is hard for Cambodian government to initiate any project on combating the issue as we have to convince the international donors to agree on our project before they provide fund. Third is that we still lack of human resources and experts to run the project smoothly; this is mainly because very few people are interested in learning about the climate change.
Finally, by looking at these obstacles Cambodia faces, especially the fourth one, it is believed that it is impossible for Cambodia to combat the climate change issue alone; there must be some contribution from outside because the problems are also too large for Cambodia to solve by itself. Furthermore, it is even more impossible because the international approaches also fail to regulate and enforce the policies on reducing the climate change issues, especially the failure of Kyoto Protocol, so is Cambodia. I will elaborate about its failures to link with Cambodia. First reason that it failed is that it failed to enough the US as the member. The United States has never ratified any policy the Kyoto Protocol set for the reason that those policies are seriously harm the United States’ economy. Based on this reason, the Kyoto Protocol lacked of the effective leadership and the large amount of financial support especially from the United States, that is one of the big problems for Kyoto Protocol. Even, in addition, the already members of the Protocol, Protocol itself cannot be assure that its members implement the policies set effectively. Like the Canada, it promised to reduce the emission 6 percent below the 1990 level until 2008 and 2012; however, it increased above 30 percent higher that than the target. Moreover, the Kyoto Protocol also failed to get its parties to take the substantial actions. The Canada, for instance, did not implement what the Kyoto required because all of those actions required Canada to reduce its emission much more than the other countries; the problem is also similar to the New Zealand, and Japan. So, the fact that the internally approaches taken to imitate the problem of climate change is such failed like that especially the big one, the Kyoto Protocol, how Cambodia, a small and poor country, can tackle the problem if it depend mainly the international aids? Well, it is really impossible then.
In conclusion, the climate change issue is not the alone single country’s responsibility but the whole world because it effects all, and a country like Cambodia would be the most affected one for the reason that it is poor, lack of expertise to initiate technical mechanisms, and especially the financial supports, yet it is the less polluting country for it is a developing country. Even although being the most affected one, Cambodia still tries to solve the problems by national and internationally even sometimes it failed. Through the new mechanism and its efforts to tackle the problems, the problem of climate change can be reduced substantially, and it is unpredictable that it would be completely solve this problem in the future.
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