Cambodia’s Coal Power Addiction Must End

Our people have already felt the impacts of the climate crisis— so a recalculation of energy policies is necessary for Cambodia now as the worst is yet to come.

As a journalist, I started to have an interest and cover energy issues in Cambodia in 2017. But what I have mostly heard is the debacle in the government’s commitment to energy transition, which I initially thought was a common issue each least developed country would face at some point due to its limited alternative choices. But this is not always the case. As one of the most vulnerable countries to the climate crisis, Cambodia has been unusually and increasingly dependent on fossil fuels, specifically on coal power sources, in spite of the availability of alternative energy paths.

As can be seen, attention on the most polluting coal-fired power plants has risen, and noticeably, more financial investments in coal have poured in from Cambodia’s close ally China— some of which are approved as a flagship project under China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

For instance, a power station construction project, which includes two 350-megawatt coal-fired power plants, officially broke ground at Sihanoukville Port on Aug. 18, 2020 and is funded by Cambodia International Investment and Development Group (CIIDG) in partnership with China Huadian Hong Kong (CHDHK).

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