Hun Sen talks climate change, nuclear energy and Mekong

In a speech to political party representatives from across Asia, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday reiterated his support for efforts to address climate change and said that countries should retain the option of exploring nuclear energy. The premier also called for countries along the Mekong River to protect the entire waterway.

The comments were made in Phnom Penh in front of more than 525 political party members from 44 political parties, according to figures provided in a release, among whom were Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. The officials were meeting for the International Conference of Asian Political Parties.

Mr Hun Sen said yesterday that “constructive consultations, cooperation and increased understanding among countries in the world would definitely help combat the global warming issue,” according to a copy of his speech.

He also said more should be done to develop renewable energy sources, adding that the “nuclear option should be retained exactly because it is an important carbon-free source of power.”

In an October speech last year, Mr Hun Sen also addressed climate change, saying Cambodia had an obligation to help address it although it had not helped create it. Also that month, Ith Praing, secretary of state for the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, said nuclear energy was a government goal, although “it could be very far in the future.” Officials from the ministry could not be reached yesterday.

Mr Hun Sen did not specifically mention dams in his comments on the Mekong River yesterday, although environmentalists have said dams on the river in China and elsewhere could dramatically hurt fisheries. Among those present yesterday was Li Yuanchao, a member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

“All Mekong countries have [a] collective responsibility for the environmental protection of the Mekong River as a whole,” Mr Hun Sen said, adding that Mekong countries should ensure that “projects put into operation are environmentally friendly for other Mekong countries.”

On Sept 22, Laos informed the regional Mekong River Commission of its plan to build the 1,260-megawatt Xayaboury dam in northern Laos, the first dam on the lower Mekong.

Mr Hun Sen and other political party members made references yesterday to the increasing economic weight of Asia and specifically China and India.

Many visiting officials also gave condolences over last week’s stampede on a bridge leading to Koh Pich island, which resulted in 352 deaths.


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