Q: What does it to take to pack the FCC rooftop on a Friday night in June?
A: Climate change!
Not the most festive reason for a party, true, but left to the FCC and GERES, climate change proved popular indeed. Nearly 200 visitors participated in the Climate Change Awareness daylong event and Feel The Heat Carbon Party at night.
The FCC played more than host venue. Their progressively minded management, FABS, or Food and Beverage Solutions (who also manages Cafe Fresco and Pacharan) recently partnered with GERES Cambodia, a French international development organization that promotes clean energy that is both environmentally and socially sustainable.
Their deal? They agree on doing their best to think globally and act locally, by effectively reducing global CO2 emissions while addressing energy-poverty linkages specific to Cambodia.
FABS contributes to the GERES Fuel-wood Saving Project. The project engineers, markets and distributes fuel-efficient cook-stoves that reduce CO2 emissions and improve livelihoods. Through the project, more Cambodian women (87 percent of stove users) will get better stoves and in turn, protect their health and save charcoal, which effectively saves large portions of Cambodia's endangered forests and saves money that families can potentially spend on better nutrition and education.
The FCC's Climate Change Awareness day was created to both educate the public on climate change, the Kyoto Protocol and carbon finance, as well as to unveil the work of GERES and their partnership with FABS.
Climate change is becoming a household phrase, and its effects are believed responsible for drastic climatic changes such as droughts, floods and other extreme weather events. Eleven of the last 12 years rank among the top 12 warmest years since 1850. GERES believes it is everyone's responsibility to take action to understand and mitigate climate change.
GERES Program Officer Minh Cuong Le Quan explains that climate change, energy and poverty are intricately linked issues; the poorest are the most vulnerable to climate change.
"Energy is like water: whether you are rich or poor there is a minimum amount needed everyday to cook, to have light, and for transportation. This expense is unavoidable, and the more expensive, the longer people have to slug at survival levels. In the slums of Phnom Penh, people spend up to 25 percent of the daily income just on energy."
On Climate Change Awareness day, the morning's official proceedings and a packed press conference revealed challenging questions by attendees, which extended discussions throughout the day on issues such as the legitimacy of claiming carbon neutrality and the definition of quality carbon offsets.
The day continued with interactive displays about GERES' activities and products, including their improved cook-stoves with a cooking demo, efficient charcoal, wood vinegar (a by-product of charcoal production), and a solar cooker. Posters showed people how to calculate their personal carbon footprint.
Le Quan and FCC General Manager Anthony Alderson both have a positive yet practical vision for their partnership.
"Being a carbon friendly business is something that all companies should consider," says Alderson. "We at the FCC decided it was time to make a difference, little as our change may help global warming. By utilizing GERES' Cambodian Carbon programs we are helping save the planet through the community we inhabit."
"Businesses are the drivers of development," Le Quan says, "[GERES] must engage into collaborations with the private sector, preferably with companies that embody the future. The management of FABS carries such an outstanding vision. Their commitment to climate change and social responsibility is simply beyond expectations."
GERES hopes that the vision of FABS will inspire others. To encourage this, they will help FABS with its innovative Green Leaves rating system (comparable to the star system) that will soon be available to hotels and restaurants that wish to audit themselves on climate friendliness.
Kimberly Buss, a carbon offset analyst for GERES, considers the Feel The Heat party a success far beyond the busy beer tap. "We managed to re-engage people in the climate change issue in a country where it is obviously not a top policy priority," Buss says. "We managed to retain the focus on the implications that are specific to Cambodia."