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UK Ambassador says economics and technology will drive renewable energy

Harrison White / Khmer Times Share:
British Ambassador to Cambodia Tina Redshaw at the British Embassy in Phnom Penh discussing Cambodia’s renewable energy sector. KT/Siv Channa

Britain’s Ambassador to Cambodia, Tina Redshaw, says the economic benefits of rapidly developing renewable energy will be the driving force in Cambodia’s transition from fossil fuels towards cleaner energy.

She also said that transitioning finance towards the sector will be key to ensuring that Cambodia and the world can “build back better” after the devastating effects of COVID-19.

In an interview with Khmer Times yesterday, the ambassador said that despite Cambodia being a relatively small global emitter, the benefits of renewable energy are still far greater than current coal and gas sources.

“Cambodia is, and always will be, a relatively small global emitter in the context of carbon emissions around the world, but climate change is a global hazard that requires multilateral action,” Redshaw said.

“However, even if you take emissions out of the list of benefits, the pure economics of renewable energy offer a better return on investment than building traditional energy sources such as coal-fired power plants,” she said.

In addition, foreign investors are now very mindful about the need to meet legislated renewable energy quotas for their export markets, the ambassador added because, based upon current plans, Cambodia is expected to source 77 percent of its electricity from coal and gas by 2030.

The UK has been promoting its own transition towards a “coal free” nation to Cambodia despite concerns over its previous use and stark level of development between the two nations.

“The use of fossil fuel-based energy was a fundamental driver of the industrial revolution meaning, yes, the UK did depend on fossil fuel-sourced energy until recently,” Redshaw said.

“Yet, our experience allows us to share the challenges of moving from coal mining and coal power, which can help other countries plan their transition away from coal,” she added

According to the embassy, the UK has decreased its reliance on coal from 40 percent in 2012 to just 5 percent in 2018, while at the same time using the opportunity for economic growth with clean energy now supporting more thab 400,000 jobs in Great Britain.

The renewable energy push in Cambodia comes as the country prepares to host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (CoP) next year, after COVID-19 delayed the original date planned for this November.

The UK now hopes to use the COVID-19 pandemic as a point of action for economies to rebuild  cleaner and more resilient in the coming years, detailing that it will focus on five areas during its presidency of CoP next year.

The five areas include energy transition, clean transport, nature based solutions, adaptation and resilience and finance.

“Financial transition is the most prevalent area I see for Cambodia because we hope to stop the funding for outdated coal-fired power stations and have it redirected towards more clean and economically beneficial options,” Redshaw said.

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