Vietnam ready to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

VietNamNet Bridge – To cope with the consequences of climate change including high temperatures, rising sea levels, increases in natural disasters, landscape changes and economic damages, Vietnam has joined hands with the international community to protect and develop forests through an initiative to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation while fostering conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+).

Climate change impacts on Vietnam

Climate change has already impacted Vietnam significantly, particularly the most vunerable sectors within agriculture, food security, forestry, fishing, manufacturing, energy, transport, tourism and public health.

Climate change, food security, poverty reduction

With 13.86 million ha of forest area, Vietnam is expected to earn US$80-100 million each year from trading emissions allowances. 

The Office of the National Target Programme for Response to Climate Change (NTPRC) said that between 2001 and 2010, damage caused by weather-related disasters led to 9,500 dead and missing people, and a loss of around 1.5% of gross domestic product per year. Over the past 50 years, the average temperature has increased between 0.5oC and 0.7oC; sea levels rose about 20cm; rainfall increased in the rainy season and decreased in the dry season; and the number of cold spells in the north fell from 288 between 1971 and 1980 to 249 between 1991 and 2000, while more hot spells appeared in the latter, particularly in the central and southern regions.

According to a scenario of climate change and sea level rise for Vietnam with a medium emission level introduced by the Ministery of Natural Resources and Environment in 2012, at the end of the 21st century, the average temperature in the country will increase 2oC - 3oC. The region from Ha Tinh to Quang Tri will see a faster average temperature increase than in other regions. The lowest average temperature will rise 2.2oC - 3oC and the highest average temperature will increase by 2oC - 3.2oC. The number of days with temperatures over 35oC may climb by 15-30 in almost every part of the country.

The rainfall in the dry season will decrease while that in the rainy season will increase. Sea levels could rise between 57cm and 73 cm. If the sea level rises one metre, 2.5% of the costal central provinces’ area is at risk of flooding and nearly 9% of those provinces’ population may be affected directly.

Typhoons, storms and tropical pressures will tend to move to the south; it is expected that there will be more powerful storms with the storm season ending later.

Efforts of the international community and Vietnam in responding to climate change through forest development and protection

Since 2005 there has been a particular focus on the link between forest loss and climate change. A discussion on deforestation was initiated within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations and the concept of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) was first discussed at the 11th sessions of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP11). In the COP13 meeting in Bali in 2007, three more activities were introduced - sustainable management of forests, conservation of forest carbon stocks and enhancement of forest carbon stocks constituting the “+” in REDD+.

Some bilateral and multilateral programmes have been established to provide technical and financial support for REDD+ readiness, such as the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of Developing Countries (so-called the UN-REDD Programme) and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) under the management of the World Bank.

Climate change, food security, poverty reduction

Professor Nguyen Ngoc Lung from the Research Institute for Sustainable Forest Management and Forest Certificate introduces the institute’s measurement of forest biomass and carbon sequestration in an ironwood forest in Bai Yen hamlet, Dan Chu commune, Hoa Binh City.

In Vietnam, a series of policies, legislative documents and programmes have been formulated and implemented to address both adaptation to climate change and mitigation of greenhouse emissions, including the NTPRC, the National Strategy on Climate Change and National Strategy on Green Growth, the 2006 National Forest Development Strategy, and the 2006-2020 National Forest Protection and Development Plan and Payments for Ecosystem Services Programme (Decree No.99/ND-CP dated December 2010).

Vietnam has also taken part in the UN-REDD Programme and FCPF as REDD+ is one of the most important measures to achieve the objectives of the above-mentioned policies. In 2012, the government approved its National REDD+ Action Plan for the 2011-2020 period (Decision No.799/QD-TTg); the plan is central to the National Climate Change Strategy and is the major framework for REDD+ implementation in Vietnam.

Vietnam is one of 19 countries implementing REDD+, which has been funded by the FCPF with US$830 million from developed countries’ contributions. Professor Nguyen Ngoc Lung from the Research Institute for Sustainable Forest Management and Forest Certificate (RISFM) said that Vietnam is implementing REDD+ in various phases. From 2016 to 2020, the country will officially carry out the initiative across the country to sell emissions allowances to developed countries.

Accordingly, developed countries will pay for forestation activities to absorb CO2 through measured technical results. The RISFM’s approach to measuring forest biomass and carbon sequestration, from which developed countries can pay for the allowances, has been recognised internationally.

Professor Vo Dai Hai, Director of the Forest Science Institute of Vietnam (FSIV) said that from 2008 to 2015, the UN-REDD+ has supported 56 countries with US$246 million to realise REDD+ all over the world - Vietnam has received US$30 million for the implementation of the programme’s second phase.

Vietnam is moving from the readiness phase to REDD+ implementation with trading emissions allowances. With 13.86 million ha of forest area, Vietnam is expected to earn US$80-100 million each year from the selling, equal to three folds of the current official development assistance for the country’s forestry sector.

While providing environmental and social benefits, REDD+ poses societal risks if the implementation merely focuses on emissions reduction.

Hoang Lien Son from the FSIV noted the risks to local residents from the conversion of natural forests to plantations and other land uses of low biodiversity value and low resilience. They could also displace indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities from their traditional territories.

Forestation for REDD+ may cause erosion or loss of rights with exclusion from lands, territories and resources, along with a loss of ecological knowledge and traditional and rural livelihoods, Son said.

Ineffective REDD+ implementation could lead to social exclusion and a distorted distribution of benefits from the programme, as well as the loss of or reduced access to forest products important for local livelihoods, he added.

In addition, it could cause conflict and overlapping national policy frameworks; reduce forestry benefits at the expense of maximising carbon benefits; and increase the number of animals destroying crops resulting from conflicts between humans and wildlife for better production of forests, Son said.

To minimise the risks, Son said that REDD+ implementation should be designed in a way that not only focuses on emissions reduction objectives, but also supports sustainable livelihoods, enhances biodiversity and ecosystem benefits, and promotes sustainable development and poverty reduction.

Nhan Dan

Climate change, food security, poverty reduction