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Cablegate: Rgc Gears Up for Copenhagen with National Climate Change

VZCZCXRO4443
RR RUEHAST RUEHCHI RUEHDH RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHNH RUEHPB
RUEHPOD RUEHSL RUEHTM RUEHTRO
DE RUEHPF #0813 3030827
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 300827Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1323
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS PHNOM PENH 000813

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, OES/PCI/SMIRZA
BANGKOK FOR REO/HHOWARD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EAGR ENRG EAID EIND CB
SUBJECT: RGC GEARS UP FOR COPENHAGEN WITH NATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE
FORUM

REF: PHNOM PENH 283

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

1. (U) Over the course of a two-day conference, technical and policy
experts educated Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) officials on the
threat of climate change and began formulating the country's
official position for the December UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change's (UNFCC) 15th Conference of the Parties (COP-15) in
Copenhagen. The gathering, held October 19-21 in Phnom Penh, was
Cambodia's first national, inter-ministerial forum on climate change
and pulled together a range of RGC officials, donors, scientists,
and civil society representatives. Cambodia's National Climate
Change Committee hosted the event, with support from some bilateral
donors and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

2. (U) Prime Minister Hun Sen opened the forum, highlighting the
vulnerability of Cambodia's agriculture and health sectors. (NOTE:
Reftel describes the risks Cambodia faces from climate change. END
NOTE.) Minister of Environment Mok Mareth prioritized climate
change institutional development, resource mobilization and
management, and preparations for COP-15. Both speakers called on
developed countries to provide more technical and financial
assistance to developing countries for climate change mitigation and
adaptation.

3. (U) Sessions held throughout the forum focused on a wide range of
topics, from forestry and carbon financing to renewable energy
development, fisheries sector adaptation, and the ties between
climate change, gender, and poverty. Some sessions focused on
low-cost technologies currently used in Cambodia that could be
applied on a wider scale to promote emissions reductions in the
short term. For example, local company Kamworks displayed its solar
lanterns, which at approximately $20 each offer an alternative to
kerosene and oil lamps. French NGO Geres presented its small-scale
carbon reduction solutions, such as efficient stoves and
sustainable, low-carbon alternatives to traditional wood charcoal,
the use of which contributes to deforestation around the country.


4. (U) Representatives of the UNDP and Oxfam America, who helped
fund and organize the event, played up the success of the forum in
the press, saying that it had positioned the RGC to be a leader in
guiding discussions in Copenhagen. A fisheries scientist who
attended told Poloff that the gathering did not produce any new or
surprising information, but that it was a good opportunity to engage
the greater RGC on the issue of climate change, rather than just the
Ministry of Environment.

5. (SBU) COMMENT. The forum was successful in that it attracted
high-level attention to the climate change issue and focused the RGC
on the upcoming Copenhagen negotiations. However, it is the first
time since the 2008 national elections that the National Climate
Change Committee has met. It will likely take time to spread the
climate change message to the rest of the RGC, not to mention the
Cambodian public. It is unlikely that the Cambodian delegation to
COP-15 will have the capacity to be a "leader" in the discussions as
some of the forum organizers have claimed, but the government may
now be more comfortable developing a Cambodian position on the
issue, rather than instructing its delegates to align automatically
with the G-77, as it has done in past negotiations. END COMMENT.


RODLEY

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