Last update 12/4/2011 1:00:00 PM (GMT+7)

Risky and wasteful!
VietNamNet Bridge – There is nothing to be sure that scripts on climate changes which are compiled by some individuals from an agency, are seen as solutions against adverse impacts of climate change.

The Mekong River Delta will be seriously affected by climate change.

Climate change, typically global warming and the increase of the sea level, is among the biggest challenge of the mankind in the 21st century. According to the World Bank, Vietnam is among five countries that will be heavily hit by climate change. The Red River and Mekong River Deltas will be flooded seriously. The aftermaths of climate change on Vietnam is a danger for the country’s goal of hunger eradication and poverty reduction and its sustainable development.

Realizing the impacts of climate change, Vietnam participated in the UN Convention on Climate Change and the Tokyo Protocol very early. The Vietnamese government in 2007 decided to develop the national program on climate change mitigation. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung then approved the program, which includes scripts against climate change and the increase of sea level. This program is considered the “treasure” for ministries, sectors and provinces to work out their detailed plans on climate change mitigation.

According to the Script on climate change, sea level rise, which was released by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in June 2009, the sea level is forecast to rise by 75cm at the lowest level and 100cm as the highest level.

A new script is about to be made public, which can make great changes to many plans which have been carried out since the first script was announced. The question is--how is the reliability and the practicality of these scripts. If the new script is still inaccurate, what will Vietnam do to avoid risks and waste?

Climate change is an interdisciplinary scientific field. According to the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), scientists have to solve three groups of matters related to climate change: 1) the nature of climate change (physical science); 2) the impacts, adaptation and vulnerability of climate change; 3) climate change mitigation.

Scientists of group 1 are responsible for answering questions about the evidences for modern climate change, showing the reasons that cause climate change, building climate models of the present and the past, pointing out the logic of scripts on greenhouse gas and the projection of future climates by models.

Based on the research of group 1, group 2 is in charge of evaluating the impacts of, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change. It is noted that climate change may benefit some subjects and areas but the job of group 2 is emphasizing on the adverse impacts of climate change.

The mission of group 3 is seeking solution for climate change mitigation.

The concept of “mitigation” is understood as how to reduce greenhouse gas in order to prevent global warming. It is also the motive force for the development of clean technology, production and use of clean energy. Recently, the conception “mitigation of climate change” has been mentioned, meaning the difference between “mitigation of climate change” (the mission of group 3) and “mitigation of climate change impacts” (which are the interests of the countries that are affected by climate change).

Based on the above basic conceptions, for Vietnam, the national program on climate change has accomplished many tasks but its method of approach goes in the opposite direction. Vietnam should have followed this order:

1) Defining whether Vietnam’s climate changes or not? If it changes--how?
20 If climate changes, how are its impacts? The impacts are good or bad? In which areas? At which level?
3) With harmful impacts, whom and which fields are vulnerable, at which level?
4) Vietnam’s ability to mitigate impacts of climate change, its strategy to cope with the impacts.
5) For reducing greenhouse gas, Vietnam can join the world as much as it can.

All issues from 2 to 4 must base on 1. The author will analyze 1 to find out errors and suggest solutions to fix them.

Assessing climate change comprises two major contents:

1) Evaluating climate change in the past and at present: Researching, surveying and defining climate change based on data collected from observing stations. This task aims to point out practical proofs on climate change in the past and at present (since we have observing stations until now). For this task, data is extremely important but Vietnam has not had any comprehensive scientific work on this issue.

The key is data. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment owns a lot of data but the date is archived unprofessionally. As a result, data used in scientific works is not verified so it is unsure that research works are accurate.

The solution for this is building a national database, in which all observatory data must be verified and has the same format. Assessment and analysis of climate change in the past and at present need to be performed again to ensure its reliability and it can be used for other purposes.

2) Assessing climate change in the future: This is the most problematic issue. This is actually the building of climate change scripts for the future, which will be the ground for defining impacts of, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change.

Vietnam is unable to forecast its future climate so it needs to use global climate models as the input and then downscale to find out models (statistical downscaling and dynamical downscaling) for Vietnam and its provinces, even districts.

There is nothing to be sure that scripts on climate changes, which are compiled by some individuals from an agency, are seen as solutions against adverse impacts of climate change; which are used by all ministries, sectors and provinces.

The trend in the world at present is creating various scripts by independent organizations and individuals, which are then summarized by different methods to have the most reliable scripts.

In Vietnam, the first official script (there were two scripts before) was approved by the Prime Minister in 2009 and has been applied widely. This script was developed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, using the statistical downscaling method and Magic/Scengen software.

That is the only product so it is able to confirm that the accuracy of this script is unstable. Actually, this was proven after a seminar in 2010, introducing the new script which will be officially released very soon.

It is dangerous that there are big differences between the two scripts, but no one could assure which is more accurate while the first has been implemented.

Conclusion and suggestions

First of all, it is necessary to immediately halt the implementation of plans to assess the impacts of climate change and work out measures to mitigate the impacts of provinces, ministries and sectors, which are based on the script 2009 and the new one because these scripts are highly unstable.

The government should ask agencies which are developing climate change scripts to group up to know which is doing what, to review the method and approach way, etc. If Vietnamese scientists exchange information, data, methodology and others, the results will be better and more reliable.

Fixing the deadline for submitting future climate assessment products under a standardized format. These products will be the foundation for building the climate change script for Vietnam and its provinces.