Climate summit highlights urgency of sustainable action

June 10, 2021 | 17:55
Vietnam has reaffirmed its commitment to reducing emissions and increasing support for green energy towards climate recovery and, to restoring its economy in a resilient and sustainable manner.
1457 p14 climate summit highlights urgency of sustainable action
Climate activists and top leaders worldwide are looking for some traditional activities to be phased out and replaced by greener alternatives. Photo: Shutterstock

At the Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 summit (P4G) in Seoul last week, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said, “Vietnam is determined to pursue its goals despite numerous challenges. This means curbing the pandemic effectively while fostering fast and sustainable socioeconomic recovery and development. Our country is striving to ensure harmonious, rational, and effective development, as well as balanced economic growth with cultural and social factors, environmental protection, and climate adaptation.”

These objectives will be accomplished while including the growth model transformation, economic restructuring, green growth, market demand, newly-emerging industries, and the enhancement of productivity as directions for development. The PM emphasised that the people are placed at the centre and considered the greatest resource, the most important driver, and the highest goal of further development.

“Vietnam resolutely rejects the model of ‘growth first, clean-up later’ and does not condone growth at all costs without sustainability. We will certainly not pursue pure economic growth at the expense of social progress and equality,” the prime minister added.

As one of the seven founding members and official partners of P4G, he proposed several recommendations. The two-day summit was the second following the inaugural meeting held in Copenhagen in 2018 and is focused on public-private partnerships (PPPs), especially in developing countries. The P4G is considered a stepping stone for the UN’s COP26 climate summit, to take place in Scotland in November.

Vietnam is committed to continuing reducing electricity usage and increasing use of sustainable energy sources, targeting a coverage with these sources of 30 per cent of the nation’s total primary energy sources by 2045, while internalising international treaties on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The country is also deploying a programme to plant a billion trees nationwide by 2025.

Pham Minh Chinh - Prime Minister

1457 p14 climate summit highlights urgency of sustainable action

We must be of one mind and join hands to strike a balance between the urgent need for economic recovery and the demand for greener and more sustainable growth in this era. This is both an objective and a pressing requirement for the development of all nations. Accordingly, I would like to make the following proposals.

Firstly, green recovery, a green economy, and the circular economy must be vigorously pursued at the national, regional, and global levels under the general framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

We need to alter the way of thinking and develop a practical approach and shift from passive response to harmonious, compatible, and effective combination of active responses and transition towards a green economy. By so doing, we will be able to avoid inversion causing shock effects.

Secondly, a green transition requires a suitable roadmap. And, it is critical to take into account different conditions and capabilities of countries. Developed countries should continue to take the lead in realising their emission reduction commitments. They are also expected to provide financial, technological, and institutional assistance to developing countries and severely affected nations by climate change.

Thirdly, it is imperative to develop institutions to encourage the support and engagement of all stakeholders, particularly the business community and the people. It is indeed crucial to promote public-private partnership projects for green growth and establish new value chains and sectors through greening industrial and agricultural production and services.

Fourthly, it is essential to enhance adaptability for the regions worst hit by climate change, including the Greater Mekong Subregion and Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. The severe challenges in those regions call for close and responsible cooperation from the international community, especially in the sustainable management and use of cross-border water resources. This will help ensure food and water security in the region and the world.

Fifthly, preventing and curbing the COVID-19 pandemic successfully are most urgent for growth to bounce back. The efforts of each country are of paramount importance, but effective international cooperation is indispensable.

Such collaboration spans from empathy for the emotional and material loss of others, sharing of technological, financial, and medical resources, especially vaccines, as well as facilitating international trade and investment in enabling transportation and movement of people and goods between countries while avoiding disruption of the global supply chain.

Sixthly, we need to uphold the spirit of unity, responsibility, and mutual respect among countries in the common interest of humanities given the current situation. We must sustain a favourable international environment and continue to promote peace, stability, and cooperation for development. This will benefit our economic recovery and international cooperation.

Last week, COP26 president-designate Alok Sharma said, “Vietnam is one of the countries with the fastest economic growth in the world, and we know that as a country it is becoming a big industrial hub in the world. But at the same time, Vietnam is also vulnerable to climate change. If we reach 2°C of global warming, it means that 40 per cent of the Mekong Delta will be flooded, affecting 17 million lives.”

Sharma added that it is vital for the world to act to limit average temperature rises to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century, to avoid the worst effects of climate change, in line with the Paris Agreement.

“That’s why it is so important for all countries to transition to clean energy. We know that 70 per cent of Vietnam’s emissions come from energy and that’s why transitioning away from coal to wind and solar energy is so vitally important,” he emphasised.

Vietnam wants to transition from a brown economy to one based on green and renewable energy with low carbon emissions, with a roadmap suitable to the country’s development needs and capacity. The roadmap is accompanied by adequate technological and financial support from developed countries.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the P4G summit, “Big or small, developing or developed, we all have to invest in a green transition and adapt to the coming changes in our climate. It is a matter of self-interest, of mutual interest, and collective interest.”

She added that this includes plans for an ambitious nationally-determined contribution update ahead of COP26, in line with net-zero targets, and announcements of an end to overseas coal financing.

P4G invests in over 50 PPPs with projects in developing countries. It is a collaborative partnership among 12 partner countries including Chile, Denmark, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Korea, South Africa, and Vietnam, and is funded by the governments of Denmark and the Netherlands and hosted at the World Resources Institute.

Other partner organisations include C40 Cities, the Global Green Growth Institute, the International Finance Corporation, United Nations Global Compact, and the World Economic Forum.

By Nguyen Phuong

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