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18 Okt 2021

MARK GRIMSDITCH, The People’s Map of Global China

China’s Overseas Coal Pledge: What Next for Cambodia’s Energy Development?

"China’s Overseas Coal Pledge: What Next for Cambodia’s Energy Development?", 18 October 2021

As documented in various project profiles on The People’s Map of Global China, Chinese energy projects often involve a diverse range of actors, all of which, in their own ways, contribute to the ‘building’ of coal power plants. [...]

The expansion of coal power in Cambodia has alarmed not only environmentalists, but also private sector actors, principally manufacturers who produce or source products from Cambodia and who have made pledges to green their supply chains [...]

While we can only speculate on whether the projects in Cambodia and Laos will be impacted by China’s move away from overseas coal, if these projects are indeed dropped by Chinese firms and banks, it could leave a sizeable hole in Cambodia’s power development plan. [...]

Both China and countries that heavily rely on Chinese-backed coal plants now find themselves at a crossroads and, once again, Cambodia is a good example of this dilemma. [...] Cambodia’s shift to coal was in part motivated by a desire to increase energy security and reduce dependence on imports, yet operational plants are 100 per cent fuelled by imported coal—almost all of which comes from Indonesia. This means Cambodia is exposed to both price volatility in the coal market and the risk of supply chain disruptions. [...]