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Climate change may destroy 30 million livelihoods in Vietnam
  • | | May 14, 2019 11:42 AM
“A 2 degree temperature rise – likely if we do not scale back carbon emissions urgently - would flood 40% of the Mekong delta and destroy 30 million livelihoods”, said UK Foreign Secretary's Special Representative for Climate Change.


UK Foreign Secretary's Special Representative for Climate Change

Nick Bridge will visit Vietnam today, May 14. On this occasion, he has a commentary on climate change and actions against this. According to him, Vietnam and the UK can join hands to deal with this global challenge.

The following is his commentary:

“This month the UK Parliament declared an environment and climate emergency. Many countries are following our lead. The United Nations says we could have just 11 years left to limit a climate change catastrophe, and that a million species are at threat of extinction due to human activity. We are eroding our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide and need to make rapid, transformational change. Young people around the globe are rightly calling on governments to do more – to act now to prevent disaster later. That’s why I’ve come to Hanoi this week. I want to build a strong partnership between the UK and Vietnam on tackling climate change. We have a responsibility to allow our children to live in a world not irreversibly damaged by human activity. All countries must work together to make our economies cleaner and greener – now and for future generations.

I know that people in Vietnam too are concerned about the impacts of climate change to which they are particularly vulnerable. A 2 degree temperature rise – likely if we do not scale back carbon emissions urgently - would flood 40% of the Mekong delta and destroy 30 million livelihoods. Already Vietnam’s agricultural and coastal communities are suffering from increased flooding and more extreme weather.

What can we do? A large part of the answer is to reduce carbon emissions by investing rapidly in green growth. Clean and sustainable energy, transport, agriculture and industry means cheaper energy, more and better jobs, cleaner air, better health and nutrition, more liveable towns and cities and an enriched natural environment . The UK, as a climate leader, has reduced emissions by 43% since 1990, while growing the British economy by two thirds. We are determined to speed this process up further – the UK’s independent Climate Change Commission recommended this month that the UK legislate now to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which would make us the first major economy to pass laws to end our contribution to global warming entirely. All our unabated coal-fired power stations will close by 2025, and just last week the UK announced that it had gone for over a week without using any coal to generate power. That’s a good feeling. Yet only 7 years ago, coal produced 40% of the UK’s power (more comparable to Vietnam’s 49% coal baseload today) . With an ambitious clean growth strategy and strong investment in and commitment to renewables, transformational change is possible and economically fruitful. It is win win for the climate and for the economy. The International Renewable Energy Agency estimates that renewable energy will be cheaper than unsubsidised fossil fuels everywhere in the world by 2020. Offshore wind in the UK (40% of the world’s total) is already cheaper than coal, nuclear and new gas. India is investing heavily in solar and wind - from 50 gigawatts to 225 gigawatts in the next four years. South Africa and Chile have successfully pivoted away from coal.

I know that Vietnam is increasingly recognising its own huge potential for renewables, particularly solar (much better than the UK), wind and biomass, though its renewable energy targets are still relatively modest - from 6.5% in 2020 to 11% in 2030. Ambitious investment in renewable energy would help Vietnam to meet its 11% annual electricity demand growth – and provide economic opportunities and growth. Without this, there could be a doubling of coal fired power stations which would make Vietnam the world’s 4th biggest coal user by 2030 (behind China, India and Indonesia), and lock the country into a negative long term trend for emissions, financial instability through stranded assets, and declining health (coal-fired power contributes to around 8 million premature deaths globally each year, primarily in Asia).

During my visit to Hanoi I will be discussing how the UK’s expertise and support can encourage Vietnam’s clean energy investment, such as advice on enabling high-quality, bankable Power Purchase Agreements; good market regulation to support innovation; and more access for the private sector to blended finance products. Through InfraCo Asia, an investment vehicle of the UK Government (and 5 other donors) we are already providing funding for a hydropower plant (Coc San 30MW) and a solar power plant (Ninh Thuan 168 MWp). And our Prosperity Fund ASEAN Low Carbon Energy Programme will invest in growing Vietnam’s capacity to access the green finance needed for transformational change.

At an international level, I hope the UK and Vietnam can collaborate towards ambitious UN climate talks in Chile this year and particularly in 2020, when I am lobbying for Britain to host the talks, and Vietnam will be ASEAN chair. Such a partnership could help energise this region, and the world to address the scale and urgency of the climate challenge we face. We must invest in climate leadership and clean growth – for the sake of our children and future generations.”

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