Climate Change

Climate Change (CC) is the change in weather, and related patterns of oceans, land, surface, and ice sheets such as temperature, ice melt, and sea level rise. While CC has historically been a natural occurrence, current CC is believed to be caused by human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels in transportation and manufacturing, releasing greenhouse gases such as CO2 to the environment.

Figure 1. Energy-related CO2 emissions with business-as-usual scenarios. Created by ODV, August 2018. Source: APEC Energy Demand and Supply Outlook 6th Edition (2016).

Climate change in Vietnam

Vietnam is vulnerable to CC. It ranks the fifth in climate risk in the Global Climate Risk Index for 2018 and eighth in the Long-Term Climate Risk Index (CRI), a list of the 10 countries most affected by extreme weather events from 1997 to 2016 (annual averages).1

Recent manifestations of CC in Vietnam include extreme weather events that are increasing in number and unusually difficult to forecast. Peak monthly rainfall increased from 270 mm in period 1901-1930 to 281 mm (1991-2015) while highest average monthly temperature increased from 27.1°C (1901-1930) to 27.5°C (1991-2015).2

Annual records are regularly being broken. Concepts such as “record rain”, “record hot sunshine” and “the peak of the flood record” have been more frequently mentioned in Vietnamese media in recent years. The year 2017 is considered a record year of natural disasters in Vietnam, with 16 irregular hurricanes and floods.3 The average temperature in 2018 in the North and North Central of Vietnam is now 0.5-1.0°C higher than the average of many years calculated from the year that data is available or in the most recent 30 years.4 Fluctuations in the number of storms and tropical depression5 are common. For example, one year will see 18 – 19 cyclones and tropical depression in the East sea, but only 4 – 6 cyclones and tropical depression in another year. The number of storms with the wind strength scale at level 12 upwards has increased slightly from 1990 to 2015.6 Fluctuations in water resources (rainfall, river water levels) in 2018 is much greater in comparison with the average of previous 2017.7 The summer of 2018 also recorded the highest temperatures in 46 years in Hanoi, with the temperature sometimes up to 42°C.8

Table 1. Relative mean temperature (°C) change in Vietnam with scenario B2 (senario of continuously increasing population) from 1980-1999 data . Created by ODV, August 2018. Source: Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (2009).

Sea level rise is also typical of CC in Vietnam. Data from Hon Dau National monitoring station recorded sea level rise of 20 cm within 50 years.9 Sea water levels measured at Vietnam’s coastal stations increased by 2.45 mm/year and 3.34 mm/year in 1960-2014 and 1993-2014, respectively. Satellite data  showed that sea levels rose to 3.5 mm/year (± 0.7 mm) in 2014 compared to 1993.10 

Climate change’s impacts

Having 3,260 km of coast line11, rising sea levels definitely create a big impact on Vietnam. According to the Inter-Governmental Panel on CC (IPCC), if sea levels rise by 100cm, the potential land loss for Vietnam would be 40,000 km2, account for 12.1% total area and 17.1 million people will be exposed, account for 23.1% of population at the time  of report.

Sea level rise will cause the Mekong Delta, known as the Cuu Long Delta in Vietnam and one of the biggest granaries of the country and the region, to become extremely vulnerable. This causes food insecurity not only for Vietnam but also for international community because Vietnam is one of the top five leading exporters of rice in the world.12

According to Vietnam’s Self-determined Contribution (year 2015),13 if the sea level rises by 100cm, over 10% of the Red River Delta area and Quang Ninh province, 2.5% Central coastal provinces, and 20% of Ho Chi Minh City area are in danger of flooding. Such impacts in the Mekong River Delta would flood about 39% of the area, which negatively affects almost 35% of the region’s population, and 40.5% of the region’s total rice yield.

CC affects all economic sectors, social life and public health.14 For example, climate change impacts agricultural productivity and changes weather patterns, which directly affects the harvest season.15 Climate change is also considered to be the cause of the emergence of new and previously unusual viruses and infectious diseases, which significantly impacts public health.16

In Climate Risk Index 2018,17 fatalities in 2016 in Vietnam due to extreme weather events were 161, ranking 11th in the world; loss 4,037,704 million USD (Purchase power parity -PPP18) ranks 5th; loss per unit GDP in % is 0.6782, ranks 10th.

Climate change mitigation and adaptation

Vietnam has prepared policies and activities in response to CC that have been implemented over the past decade. These are mainly on the reduction of greenhouse gas emission (GHG) emissions and CC adaptation.

Activities to adapt to CC by 2030 include the following:

  • Achieve at least 90% of socio-economic development plans, which are integrated with disaster risk management and CC adaptation;
  • Reduce by 2% the rate of poor households in the whole country annually, and in the poor communes 4% annually
  • Complete 100% of the construction of anchorages and storm shelters, and 100% of offshore fishing ships and boats with adequate communication equipment;
  • Increase forest coverage to 45%;
  • Raise the area of coastal protection forests to 380,000 ha, of which mangroves will be planted from 20,000 to 50,000 ha;
  • Have at least 90% of the urban population and 80% of the rural population using clean water and sanitation; and
  • Provide access to health care services for 100% of the population.19

Vietnam supports the United Nations Framework Convention on CC (UNFCCC) that is aimed at keeping the average global temperature increase by the end of the 21st century to below 2°C compared to the pre-industrial period. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) also released CC and sea level rises scenarios20 to support climate change mitigation and adaptation. Vietnam signed the 1992 Climate Convention, ratified in 1994; signed the Kyoto Protocol 1998  and ratified in 2002; established the National Steering Committee for the Implementation of the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol; Vietnam also sent to the Secretariat of the Climate Convention its First National Covenant on Climate (2003), Second National Communication (2010), First Update (2014), reflecting the efforts the latest in responding to CC GHG inventory.21 

The Nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMA)  is a voluntary action strategy targeting effective climate change mitigation in developing and transition countries, which will result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions across different sectors, and encourages the development of NAMAs through ministries, sectors and local governments.22 Although some NAMA solutions have been proposed for different areas, measures taken so far are not yet ready. NAMA is considered concrete actions to achieve the goals of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) in a more sustainable and long-term national plan and strategy. NAMAs will continue to be implemented as part of the NDCs after 2020.23

The CC Department is part of the MONRE and is responsible for advising and assisting the Minister in the management of CC, protection of the ozone layer, and implementation of public services on CC in accordance with the law. The National Hydrological Forecasting Center  was established in March 2018 under MONRE to monitor, synthesize and report on hydro-meteorological, meteorological disasters and CC trends nationally, regionally, and globally according to regulations.

Vietnam has carried out an inventory of GHG emissions in the years 1994, 2002 and 2010.24 In 2017, Vietnam submitted to the United Nations a national forest reference emission level of 59,960,827 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2 eq)/year and forest reference level of –39,602,735 tCO2 eq/year.25

According to Vietnam’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)26 with domestic resources, Vietnam will reduce 8% of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to normal development scenarios. The above 8% could be increased to 25% upon receipt of international assistance through bilateral and multilateral cooperation and implementation of mechanisms in the new Global Climate Agreement.27

Climate change national policies and laws

According to MONRE’s expert, CC issues in Vietnam’s policies and laws are approached in two directions: CC legal policy (including three pillars: adaptation to change CC, mitigation of GHG emissions, inter-sectoral cooperation) and initial integration of the legal policy and some directly related sectors.28

Since 2008, the Government of Vietnam has implemented the National Target Program to respond to CC (NTP-RCC).29 In 2011, the National Strategy for CC 30 was enacted, which defined the targets for the period 2011-2015 and 2016-2050. In 2012, the National Strategy on Green Growth31 was approved targeting GHG emissions reduction and solutions for implementation including issuing regulations on linkages to international carbon markets. In 2013, the Law on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control32 was issued to address natural hazards that affect the country, mainly the dangers of CC. The Law on Environmental Protection in 201433 includes a comprehensive chapter on CC. The latest actions are to approve the CC and green growth target program for the 2016-2020 period34; to approve the National Program on Reducing GHG emissions through forest loss and degradation; conservation and enhancement of carbon stocks and sustainable management of forest resources (REDD+) by 203035; and releasing Vietnam’s INDCs36. A draft decree on the schedule and modalities for greenhouse gas emission mitigation37 has been raised for comments in 2018.

Climate change international cooperation

Working with the international community to respond to CC is one of the four objectives of the National Strategy on CC38 While strengthening cooperation with developed countries such as Japan, Korea, France, the Netherlands, and USA, Vietnam continues to cooperate with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, the United Nations, and many other international organizations to achieve its goals related to CC. 

The Green Climate Fund and similar mechanisms have not yet constituted a significant share of official transfers to Vietnam but according to UNDP, this situation will change as multilateral and bilateral agencies refocus on their strategies.39

Means of implementation, and monitoring and evaluation

Means of implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of CC adaptation activities are reflected in Vietnam’s “National Bulletin” and “Vietnam Biennial Update for the UNFCCC”.40 

Besides technology needs, human resources and capacity building, financial supports are considered a challenge for Vietnam to reach the Target Program to Respond to CC and Green Growth41 (see table below).

Figure 3. Financial needs for the implementation of the Target Program to Respond to CC and Green Growth for the period of 2016-2020 (Unit: VND billion).  Source: Resolution No. 73/NQ-CP dated August 26th, 2016

Limitations and challenges

Beside limitations in means of implementations such as finance, technology, and human capacity42 Vietnam faces other challenges to cope with CC. Awareness about CC is limited and there is a lack of agreement on the risks and how to respond to CC. There are relevant laws and policies, but responses to CC are still slow and there is a lack of uniformity among sectors and coordination between central agencies and localities.43

In addition, data available  related to environmental sustainability, an important aspect of sustainable development goals (SDG) are very limited. Data for only 14 out of 67 global SDG indicators related to environmental sustainability (accounting for 20.8%) are available 44 and can be found in Vietnam’s national statistical system.

References

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