The Cambodian government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to study possibilities for the export of renewable energy to Singapore as part of its long-term strategy to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
Keo Rottanak, Minister attached to the Prime Minister and Managing Director of Electricité du Cambodge (EDC), said on Tuesday that the government is committed to a zero goal of 2050 and will continue to provide a high share of renewable energy in the total energy generation mix by expanding contributions, including hydropower and solar.
“For your information, we’ve just signed a MoU with Singapore to explore the possibility of exporting our renewable resources to Singapore by 2028,” Rottanak said at a workshop - New Opportunities for Renewable Energy and Grid Reinforcement in Cambodia.
He noted that Singapore currently generates 95 percent of its electricity from gas, adding that Cambodia is drawing 62 percent of its energy from renewable resources. “We want to share this with ASEAN partners,” he said.
He added that the private sector plays an important role in Cambodia’s energy landscape and for this MoU, if it goes as planned in 2028, it will need huge investment in subsea level cables worth tens of billions of dollars.
“The government will not invest in that,” Rottanak said, adding that the government’s role will be limited to creating the necessary framework so the right investors can take part.
Rottanak’s announcement comes as he said the government has proved some people wrong about electricity connectivity.
“In 2008, the doomsayers argued that we were going nowhere and we’ve proved them wrong,” Rottanak said, adding that from 17 percent of households in 2008 to almost 90 percent of households are connected to the national grid. In addition, the percentage of villages connected to the national grid has risen from 15 percent in 2008 to almost 99 percent.
“Our success is crystal clear,” he said, adding that this is against the global backdrop of an estimated 733 million people without electricity and another 2.4 billion people without access to clean cooking.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop, Anthony Galliano, head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia (AmCham), said that atmospheric levels of the three main greenhouse gasses - carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide - all reached new record highs in 2021.
Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and cement increased by 1 percent in 2022, hitting a new record high of 36.6 billion tonnes of CO2, said Galliano, who is also the Group CEO at Cambodian Investment Management Holding.
“It could become too hot to live in many places by the end of the century,” he said.
Galliano said that despite international treaties and agreements, mainly the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement where countries agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere keeps rising at an alarming rate, increasingly heating the earth.
“We are heading in the wrong direction, with a huge gap between aspirations and reality. Without much more ambitious action, the physical and socioeconomic impacts of climate change will be increasingly devastating.”
However, there are trickles of hope, Galliano said as world leaders embrace the urgent need to accelerate actions to address the climate crisis, including emissions reductions, finance, innovation, job creation, and resilience and adaptation.
According to Galliano, China, the world’s biggest annual carbon polluter, recorded an 8 percent fall in the June quarter and a 3 percent cut year-on-year, the largest cut in Chinese carbon pollution in at least a decade.
More people are now employed in clean energy than the fossil fuel industry, he said, adding that clean energy investment has grown by 12 percent a year since 2020, in part due to the rise of public and private support for sustainable finance.
Renewable energy, new grids and energy storage account for more than 80 percent of total power sector investment. The US passed major climate change legislation through its Congress, which could propel the country to a 43 percent cut in emissions by 2030 compared with 2005 levels, he said.
Renewable and green energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels. From 2009 to 2019, the price of electricity from solar dropped 89 percent, and the price of onshore wind dropped 70 percent.
“If we found out we had cancer, we would take all necessary steps to survive, and we must approach climate change the same way,” he said.