Cambodia Energy and Environment Facts

Natural resources, energy and environment

Timber is Cambodia’s most important natural resource, but the forest industry has serious problems. Most of the electricity is generated in hydropower plants. However, the power shortage is large and power outages are common.

A large part of the logging is done illegally and the forests are usually shredded without new trees being planted. The gains from the devastation go down into the pockets of local and military rulers.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Cambodia with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.

The only minerals extracted to any great extent are phosphates, which are used for fertilizers. The previously large occurrences of sapphires and rubies are now believed to be almost exhausted. Iron, manganese and bauxite deposits exist but are not being exploited due to poor transport opportunities.

In Siamviken, both oil and natural gas have been found and foreign companies have been granted the rights to mine deposits. No significant production has yet begun, partly because of a protracted conflict with Thailand over rights.

The most important energy source is firewood. Almost all other energy must be imported, mainly in the form of oil and natural gas. Electricity must also be imported, from Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Cambodia, however, has great potential for hydroelectric extraction and extensive expansion is ongoing. In 2014, hydropower accounted for just over 60 percent of electricity production, a sharp increase compared to just over 4 per cent in 2011 when oil accounted for over 90 percent. In 2014, around a tenth of the electricity was extracted from oil.

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Environmental experts have warned of negative environmental effects of the power plant initiative, as well as threatening the living conditions of the local population such as fishing.

Almost half of the population does not have access to electricity and the existing electricity distribution systems are in great need of repair.


Energy use per person

415 kilos of oil equivalent (2014)

Electricity consumption per person

270 kWh, kWh (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions in total

6 685 thousand tonnes (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant

0.4 ton (2014)

The share of energy from renewable sources

64.9 percent (2015)



Rainsy is sentenced to prison

December 27

CNRP President Sam Rainsy, who is in exile in France, is sentenced in his absence by a Cambodian court to five years in prison for a Facebook post written by another person. The post touches on the delicate issue of the border crossing between Cambodia and Vietnam.


Life sentences against Chea and Samphan stand firm

November 23

The Red Khmer Tribunal rejects Nuon Chea’s and Khieu Samphan’s appeals for the life sentences they were both sentenced for, among other things, crimes against humanity during the Red Khmer terrorist regime 1975-1979 (see Political system).

CNRP ends boycott of parliament

November 22

CNRP ends the boycott of the work of the National Assembly. It is reportedly done after strong pressure from Hun Sen. The boycott began in September of the same year when CNRP’s Vice President Kem Sokha was imprisoned (see September 2016).

Senator is jailed for defamation by Hun Sen

November 17

Opposition politician and Senator Thak Lany is sentenced to 18 months in prison for defaming Hun Sen. She is alleged to have claimed in a video that Hun Sen arranged the assassination of regime critic Kem Ley in July of that year. Lany is believed to have moved abroad and was sentenced in his absence. The many cases against opposites are considered to be linked to the fact that general elections will be held in 2018. A former soldier has been charged with the murder of Kem Ley.

Opposition Senator Prison

November 7

An opposition senator is sentenced to seven years in prison for publishing fake documents in social media about disputed border violations against Vietnam. Opposition politicians are often accused by the government of trying to whip up anti-Vietnamese sentiment in order to undermine Hun Sen’s position. Hun Sen has a good relationship with Vietnam’s political leaders. In October, the same court sentenced an opposition MP to 2.5 years in prison for posting fake maps of disputed areas on Facebook.


CNRP leaders sentenced to prison

September 9th

Kem Sokha, vice president of CNRP, is sentenced to five months in prison for refusing to appear in court in connection with an alleged sex scandal. Kem Sokha is sentenced after a day’s trial, which receives criticism from human rights organizations who believe the case is one in the line of defeat against the opposition with a view to securing a electoral victory for CPP 2018. In protest against the verdict, CNRP initiates a boycott of the work of the National Assembly.


Regime critics are shot to death

July 10

Government-critical grassroots activist Kem Ley is shot dead in Phnom Penh. According to police, he was shot down at a gas station after a quarrel about money. Thousands of followers follow the car with the dead body on its way to one of the city’s pagodas.


Three opposition prisoners

June 13th

A local court sentenced three members of the CNRP Youth Federation to seven years in prison each. They are being sentenced for attempted riots in connection with the election-related violence in July 2014. Previously, eleven opposites have been sentenced to up to 20 years in prison for the same crime (see June 2015).


A man left in Australian refugee program

May 20

Another Iranian man in the Australian-Cambodian refugee program leaves Cambodia. Remains only one asylum seeker, a man from the Muslim minority rohingya in Myanmar (formerly Burma). He is stateless and therefore has no homeland to return to.

New loans from the World Bank

May 20

The World Bank grants Cambodia new loans for the equivalent of $ 130 million. It is the first time since 2011 that the international lending institution grants new loans to Cambodia. The reason for the five-year halt was that the World Bank reacted to the relocation of about 4,000 families from a sea beach in Phnom Penh. The families were forced to relocate when the government leased the land to a private company – led by a CPP politician – who exploited the area.


New laws for trade union activities

April 4th

Parliament adopts new laws for the labor market that critics consider to limit trade union activities in the textile industry and limit the number of trade unions; The laws mean, among other things, that unions must report their finances to the authorities every year. In Cambodia there are about 3,400 trade unions. The textile industry has around 700,000 employees, most of them women.


Two asylum seekers return home

March 8th

A woman and a man from Iran return to their home country from Cambodia, where they were moved in accordance with an agreement with Australia. Remaining in Cambodia, there are two refugees who were moved there through the agreement with Australia.

Hun Sen replaces ministers

March 17

Prime Minister Hun Sen announces that he intends to implement a major government reform. Eight of 27 ministers will be replaced, including Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, who is one of Hun Sens’s closest allies. The reason for the remodeling is that the work must be streamlined. Assessors believe that the ministerial changes are intended to attract young voters in the local elections in 2017 and the general elections in 2018. Several of the ministers who resign belong to an older generation. Some political changes in the course are not expected to change.

Cambodia Energy and Environment Facts

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