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Cambodia: Global brands express concerns over govt.'s shift to coal power; while companies say the move clashes with their corporate targets to reduce carbon emissions

"Cambodia's shift to coal power riles global brands", 11 August 2020

Cambodia's embrace of new coal power projects is making the Southeast Asian state "less attractive" to international brands producing in the country.

In a letter addressed to the Cambodian government …, several major companies expressed concern about the country's plans to nearly triple the amount of power it generates from coal in coming years.

The planned surge follows years of drought which have exposed limits to the hydropower on which the country relies.

But the move has drawn concern from prominent brands including clothing giants H&M, Adidas, Puma and Gap, as well as U.S. bicycle manufacturer Specialized and Cambodian-Thai concrete firm Chip Mong Insee.

In the letter … the companies warned that Cambodia's pursuit of new fossil-fuel power projects, instead of embracing renewables like solar and wind, clashed with their corporate targets to reduce carbon emissions.

"Electricity decisions made today will lock Cambodia into a future that appears to be the opposite of global and regional trends and less attractive to our industry," the letter read.

"Countries that today prioritize [renewable energy] and a green future will avoid wasting money on outdated technologies that will soon be obsolete and expensive," it added.

The coal concerns come as Cambodia prepares to lose some vital European Union trade privileges …what Brussels has called "systematic" human rights violations.

In an email …, H&M said that, amid the confluence of such environmental and economic issues, it was re-evaluating its future production strategy in the country…

The brands' letter pointed to "various regional free trade agreements" that provided attractive trade alternatives to Cambodia amid "differing national commitments to renewable energy."…