Overseeing bolder commitments in line with the country’s greener intentions

November 25, 2021 | 14:00
The commitment of Vietnam at the COP26 climate summit to achieve the target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is consistent with the trend of green recovery post-pandemic and the human-centred economy that the resolution of the 13th Party Congress has just adopted.
By Nguyen Ngoc Huy Senior climate change advisor Oxfam Vietnam
By Nguyen Ngoc Huy Senior climate change advisor Oxfam Vietnam

In order to implement this commitment, Vietnam is facing numerous challenges in regards to technology, finance, and human resources, and even conflicts with current economic development policies and strategies. However, it will also open up opportunities to transform economic models to improve community health, protect the environment, and ensure green growth, as well as access to green technologies and green finance for solutions for a low-carbon economy from now to 2030 and a long-term vision to 2050.

In fact, Vietnam already has national strategies, programme frameworks, and national projects to catch up with international green investments. Besides, we have abundant renewable energy resources such as sunshine, wind, sea waves, forest land, and biomass raw materials from agricultural wastes and by-products. With the development of technologies, changing the way of doing and increasing supervision, Vietnam may fulfil a large part of its commitments.

According to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission scenario mentioned in the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) Technical Report, Vietnam’s normal GHG emissions equalled 502.1 million tonnes of CO2 in 2020, and will be 888.8 million tons of CO2 in 2030. Thus, without appropriate technical solutions and policies to transform economic development, emissions in 2030 will be nearly double that of 2020.

This is a huge challenge in the context that Vietnam has just experienced around two years of being heavily hit by COVID-19 and the economy needs to recover with the target of GDP growth of 6.5-7 per cent annually.

Meanwhile, sectors that play a key role in Vietnam’s economic development are energy, transportation, construction, agriculture, and industry, which are generating too many emissions. Setting a strong emission reduction target will likely lead to an annual GDP growth target adjustment and harmonised regulation among economic sectors.

At COP26, participants expressed wishes to mobilise around $100 billion every year to overcome problems with climate change and reduce GHG emissions to zero by 2050. If this becomes true, this will be important finance to support developing countries, including Vietnam, to develop climate change programmes. Thereby, Vietnam should build and make transparent green criteria in infrastructural projects and production through IT application and digital transformation.

The government plays a guiding and regulatory role by policy and mobilises the participation of the private sector to provide initiatives in low-carbon production and business, and solutions for the circular economy that uses fewer fossil fuels and reduces environmental pollution. In the future, imported and exported goods should be labelled with carbon. So businesses should change technologies to avoid high carbon taxes when exporting to international markets, and access green finance from the global climate funds.

Commercial banks may develop and announce green criteria and human welfare criteria when approving investment capital for infrastructure, energy, and agricultural construction projects.

The global climate fund will only provide funds for countries that have transparent financial management systems and have piloted ready-made initiatives. Therefore, access to green finance sources will be convenient and timely for countries with high readiness.

Harmonising the goal of economic development, GDP growth in parallel with the reduction of GHG emissions is a difficult dual goal to achieve. Even so, we have opportunities to fulfil our commitments with existing advantages and shifts in growth models.

Additionally, the government should prioritise taking advantage of promoting solutions for land use changes and forestry, which are areas that can absorb GHGs. Thus, we must increase the area of natural forests by converting plantations and protection forests into non-logging forests, as well as converting inefficient rice land to aquaculture or land biodiversity conservation.

The government should encourage technological change and focus on reducing emissions in high-emitting economic sectors including energy, transport, agriculture, construction, agriculture, and waste management. The application of emission reduction solutions must be the responsibility of all people, not just the responsibility of the government, ministries, or agencies only. To achieve this goal, we need criteria for environmentally-friendly green economic development and build green and low-carbon indicators in production and business.

The commitment of Vietnam at COP26 also reflects the leading position of Vietnam to participate and carry out international conventions and local climate change policies.

Since 2008, Vietnam has been the leading country in building a national targeting programme for adapting to climate change. In 2009, Vietnam was the leading country in Southeast Asia to build and announce climate change and sea-level rise scenarios. And 10 years ago, Vietnam built the National Strategy on Climate Change and issued a national plan for the previous decade.

For international commitments, in 2015 Vietnam published its intended NDC report to confirm the country’s internal capacity in responding to climate change. The following year, it signed the Paris Agreement on climate change and last year, the prime minister approved Vietnam’s updated NDCs. Accordingly, with domestic resources, by 2030 Vietnam will cut its total GHG emissions by 9 per cent compared to the national normal development scenario, equivalent to 83.9 million tonnes of CO2.

These are policies and commitments that reflect the serious concern and determination of Vietnam’s government in climate change adaptation and mitigation. The commitment of Vietnam at the COP26 summit is rather ambitious and beneficial in accompanying other countries in the world to join the Paris Agreement and catch up with the global trend.

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