Scientists want climate plans changed

VietNamNet Bridge – Many scientists of southern cities and provinces have called for a new approach to climate change adaptation that would be tailored to each specific region.

Commenting on a draft proposal by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MENR), participants at a conference held in HCM City said it [the draft] should be revised.

European Union chips in $6 million

The European Union (EU) last week committed 4.95 million euros (US$6 million) to the Mekong River Commission (MRC) for the Climate Change Adaptation Initiative (CCAI) until 2015.

This initiative supports the MRC's programme to assess the effects of climate change and integrate adaptation planning at the regional, national and community levels.

The funding is part of the Global Climate Change Alliance, an initiative of the EU to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with the nations most affected by climate change.

"The support of the EU underscores the importance of climate change in the development of the Lower Mekong Basin. Adaptation planning can better prepare the region for the challenges ahead, ensuring food security and alleviating poverty," said Hans Guttman, chief executive officer of the MRC, at the signing ceremony last week.

With support from the EU together with other development partners, the initiative will provide training and exchanges at the governmental and community levels to identify vulnerabilities and ways to tackle the challenges.

The MRC is the inter-governmental body responsible for cooperation on the sustainable management of the Mekong Basin whose members include Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Viet Nam.

The conference, held by MENR and the Central Committee for Publicity and Education on Coping with Climate Change and Resource Conservation, was also attended by leaders of southern localities stretching from Da Nang to Ca Mau.

Dr Duong Van Ni of Can Tho University said that different approaches were needed for each locality because the impact of climate change varied from area to area within the country.

"The risks from climate change include higher sea levels. But the upper part of the Mekong River is also affected, which means the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta needs a clear strategy to have reserves of fresh water," he said.

"Water volume from the upper to the lower part has changed dramatically in recent years due to climate change and changes made in the upper basin. This could lead to a major water shortage in the next 20 years," Ni added.

Prof Le Huy Ba, former lecturer at HCM City Industry University, said the ministry's report incorrectly separated the two issues of climate change and the environment.

He said the report had an "inaccurate scientific approach" that focused on prevention rather than adaptation. Ni of Can Tho University said the major risk from climate change is the spread of disease from rising temperatures and different weather conditions.

"There will be more mosquitoes because of increased flooding," he said.

Ni also said that the proposal focused on the delta's inland areas but ignored the sea areas around the region.

He urged authorities in all countries lying on the upper part of the Mekong River to work closely with Viet Nam and neighbouring countries to exchange information on water levels and other specific data.

And, an official from the Steering Committee for Southwest Region Development said it was necessary to monitor pollution levels of water from the river's upper part, which directly affects underground water in the delta.

He said that any planning scenario should include solutions on resolving the pollution levels in the river's upper region.
The ministry's proposal will be submitted to the next Communist Party Congress, which will issue a resolution on climate change.

Source: VNS

Vietnam, scientists, climate change, higher sea levels, Mekong River