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The Ministry of Environment in Cambodia and other ministries expressed their full commitment to protecting the public health and the environment by adopting proven measures to address air pollution during a workshop held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in May 2023.

The workshop, entitled: “Cambodia Clean Fuels and Vehicles,” is part of a collective effort by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), Clean Air Asia, the Cambodian Ministry of Environment, and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in assisting the country’s journey towards sustainable transportation through policy guidance and the sharing of experiences from other Southeast Asian countries.

Current efforts

H. E. Chea Sina, the Under Secretary of State of the Ministry of Environment, shared that the Government of Cambodia has its own initiative to prevent air quality degradation through Sub-decree No. 42 on “Air Pollution Control and Noise Disturbance” in 2000, and the Circular No.1 on “Measures to Prevent and Reduce the Ambient Air Pollution” in 2020.

Fuel labeling and baselining

Dr. Raymund Abad of Clean Air Asia shared the key findings from the Cambodia fuel economy baseline report, which showed how the age, powertrain technology, engine size, and weight of vehicles used in Cambodia affect fuel economy. He also highlighted that fuel economy baselines are vital to developing fuel economy policies like vehicle labeling and promoting improved end-user decision-making.

According to Abad, the report also showed the decreasing share of imported used vehicles under 10 years of age, and identified existing energy efficiency and conservation laws in the region which are used as the foundation for fuel labeling.

Used vehicles and their impact on road safety and the environment.

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Regulating second-hand vehicle imports

Ms June Yeonju Jeong from UNEP highlighted the importance of setting minimum standards and increased data sharing to prevent the importation of polluting and unsafe vehicles. “Cambodia ranks 3rd in used vehicles importing country in 2019 and 2020 in the Asia-Pacific Region. There is an urgent need for collective action regarding global trade in used vehicles report to combat air pollution and its detrimental effects on public health and the environment,” said Ms Jeong. UNEP, in close collaboration with partners such as Clean Air Asia, will increase its support in addressing this pressing concern in Cambodia and worldwide while fostering engagement with major used vehicle exporters across the globe.

Vehicle emission standards

The workshop also discussed vehicle emission standards, soot-free heavy-duty vehicles, and Euro 4/IV implementation in the ASEAN region.

Dr. Supat Wangwongwatana from the Thammasat University-Rangsit Campus shared that the air quality benefits from adopting stringent emissions standards must be observed over a long period. Improved fuel quality standards will also improve the engine performance of in-used vehicles in Cambodia. Dr. Wangwongwatana stresses that these fuels can be used even in old vehicles, allaying fears that these are incompatible with old vehicles.

Mr. Myron Alcanzare of Clean Air Asia identified heavy-duty vehicles as major contributors to PM2.5. He reiterated Cambodia’s growing economy and vehicle registrations, including trucks. Mr. Alcanzare cautioned that using more pre-Euro 4 trucks will degrade the air quality unless the country mandates the use of soot-free technologies and implements vehicle lifespan policies. Soot-free technologies, according to Mr. Alcanzare, will protect Cambodia from importing used vehicles which emit large amounts of soot.

Experiences of Euro 4 implementation in Indonesia was presented by Mr. Aditya Mahalana from ICCT. Mr. Mahalana presented innovative solutions used in Indonesia, like a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera system that captures plate numbers, measures exhaust opacity, and reports to relevant authorities. This was followed by the presentation of Mr. Alcanzare on the Philippines; experience with Euro 4 and identified technologies and implementation measures that Cambodian ministries can adopt. He also provided some insights on how ministries can coordinate with each other based on their mandates, as experienced in the Philippines.

H. E. Pak Sokharavuth, General Directorate of the Ministry of Environment, affirmed that the Ministry will consider the discussions from the workshop to their Circular No. 1 (Euro 4/IV) and the Euro 6/IV roadmap, which they aim to implement by 2030. He stated that the workshop aligned with the goals of the Ministry of Environment’s ambition of developing strong policies for clean air and a sustainable transport sector.