Global Warming Could Turn Capital Into Beach, Warns Activist

If the Greenland ice cap were to melt, Phnom Penh could, in a worst case scenario, be turned into a beach, according to David Pe­choux, who organized gatherings around the capital this weekend to promote awareness about climate change.

Were global warming to get severe enough, “the entire Mekong basin would be under water,” the French national said in an interview.

To prevent this from happening, a global climate-change campaign involving more than 10,000 events worldwide was launched Saturday, and Pechoux worked with the French NGO Geres to provide Ph­nom Penh residents with a chance to pitch in. Exhibitions at the FCC restaurant and bar, talks at the Pavilion hotel and Sala Artspace gallery, as well as a live broadcast at Elsewhere of concerts in London and Sydney were among the events.

At participating establishments, people could buy $20 coupons to balance out one ton of harmful emissions put into the atmosphere—an amount equal to three roundtrip flights to Bangkok or 10,000 km on a motorcycle. The money went to Geres, for projects such as its cooking stove that burns 30 percent less fuel than traditional bucket-shaped stoves and is now used by 200,000 families nationwide.

“What we can’t reduce, we can offset…by funding projects that will make that change for you,” said Minh Cuong Le Quan, Geres program officer. By the same principle, FCC Operations Director Anthony Alderson announ­ced the opening of a carbon-neutral hotel by the FCC group.

The 16-room Quay Hotel, due to open in October, has modified its power systems to give off less carbon dioxide emissions. “We cut emissions down before even opening the hotel,” which will be located on Sisowath Quay, Alderson said.

The effects of global warming on Cambodia are significant: more floods, more droughts and less rice, said Tin Ponlok, who works in climate change at the Environment Ministry.

British Ambassador David Reader said that Cambodia is “a sink for greenhouse gases,” which is beneficial since it absorbs more than it gives off. But, he added, “that could change shortly with deforestation.”

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