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Vietnam and the Paris Agreement by City Tech Blogger Dung Mai

The Paris Agreement has been in force since 2016 and it was indeed an extraordinary event. The strong support of the international community is a testimony to the urgency of the issue. It also reflects the agreement of governments that global cooperation is needed to address the challenge of climate change. To curb global warming, the Paris Agreement sets a very ambitious goal of keeping the temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius and continuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius at the end of this century, compared to pre-industrial times as required by countries which are most affected by climate change. To reach this goal, the agreement also states that the world must rapidly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to the greatest extent as possible. Specific progress has been made in the mid-century, around 2050, that the world must strike a balance between human emissions and the ability of the Earth to absorb the “waste collection”. The agreement also stipulates that by 2018, the countries must have a comprehensive impact assessment in stopping global warming and publish concrete plans for carbon reduction when the Paris Agreement is in effect. force. After this time, every five years, from 2023, the countries will review the set objectives. It is also worth noting that that the Agreement also requires developed countries to be legally bound to provide financing to developing countries dedicated to anti-climate change activities. By 2025, the countries should reach a joint agreement providing at least $100 billion a year for developing countries to respond to climate change.

As a country which is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, especially extreme weather events caused by climate change, such as: droughts, hurricanes, floods, sea ​​level rising, and salination, Vietnam welcomes the signing of the Paris Agreement. Vietnam is one of the countries with a detailed plan to implement the agreement by 2030. Accordingly, the nation will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 8 percent and achieve a 25 percent cut with international support. For Vietnam, the signing and ratification of the Agreement will be an early sign of the determination of the Government of Vietnam to respond to global climate change. At the same time, with the signing of the Agreement, Vietnam can take advantage of the opportunities and transform the challenges of climate change into new opportunities for growth in the country. Although it will only come into effect after 2020, there is widespread perception that the Paris Agreement has opened tremendous opportunities.

First are the changes of perception, habits, lifestyle, production, business, and consumption associated with building a low carbon culture and harmonize with the environment and climate. Second is to build and to improve institutions, policies, and laws towards a low carbon development model globally, as well as to strengthen regional links and cooperation among countries to achieve high expectations of keeping the level the average temperature. Third is to promote scientific research and development of clean energy technologies, reduce investment in large emission projects, and increase investment in renewable energy to gradually replace fossil fuels. Fourth is to diversify resources mobilized to respond to climate change through development of market mechanisms. Carbon pricing and carbon credit exchanges will be established with investment and payment mechanisms based on the outputs. Fifth is to promote investment in responding to climate change and sustainable socio-economic development by facilitating and encouraging active participation and building of the social sector. Sixth is to increase resilience to the impacts of climate change by creating mechanisms for stakeholders to propose climate change adaptation plans as well as resource requirements for implementation. More than ever, this is the opportunity to revisit the development model mainly based on low labor costs and natural resources to slowly move to the model of green development and friendly environment. At the same time, it is possible to take advantage of the resources, experiences, and technology of advanced countries, thereby promoting the development of high-quality human resources, researches, and development of low-carbon, high tolerance, intelligent technology coping with climate change.

Besides the advantages, the challenges posed to Vietnam are also great. Firstly, it is difficult to change the perception and habits of the black carbon-fueled development model, which has been ingrained for a long time. To move towards a sustainable development of clean energy leads to higher costs. However, human resources, science, technology and finance are still lacking to meet the actual needs to implement the agreement. Secondly, there is no legally binding mechanism for commitments on financial contributions, so there is no guarantee of successful implementation committed to mobilize $100 billion each year from 2020 onwards for greenhouse gas emissions mitigation and adaptation actions, as well as support for free or low-cost access to technology for developing countries like Vietnam. Third, international barriers will be formed due to very stringent regulations and requirements on global carbon standards, especially for high-volume products and services that require large carbon emissions. Fourth, there is a fundamental need to innovate on institutions and policies in line with international regulations, particularly close monitoring mechanisms to ensure transparency in responses to climate change. Fifth, climate change will continue to be complicated and unpredictable therefore, the commitments to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and the implementation of the Agreement are not yet sufficient to ensure that the average temperature increase at the end of this century is below 2 degrees Celsius.

Soon, climate change will continue to have a heavy impact on people and climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, forestry and livestock. Vietnam will need more resources to adapt and overcome the consequences of natural disasters, while striving to meet the economic growth targets, ensure social security, poverty reduction. However, it is necessary to increase investment in technological innovation and to develop renewable energy to replace fossil fuels to improve the competitiveness of the economy and enterprises in the national market. In addition, Vietnam must change the way greenhouse gas inventory is carried out. That will also entail huge demand for resources. This is a great challenge for the country.

To implement the contents of the Paris Agreement in the coming period, Vietnam needs to point out the advantages and disadvantages for the new development stage, including the opportunities and challenges of responding to climate change in the implementation of the Paris Agreement. It is necessary to consider the transformation of the low-carbon and high-growth models as one of the indispensable solutions to develop the country faster and better, avoiding the middle-income trap when natural resources, especially coal, oil is not much and not recommended to use. At the same time, it is necessary to emphasize the need to change the behavior and lifestyle of the whole society to shape production patterns and sustainable consumption habits so that each member of society is aware of active prevention and mitigation of natural disasters and adaptation to climate change, thereby reducing the damage to people and property. Nonetheless, Vietnam needs to strengthen the compliance and enforcement of international regulations and accelerate the implementation of the policies and laws on response to climate change. Vietnam will also elevate in human resources and strengthen scientific researches of appropriate technology to transform growth, production, and consumption patterns towards low carbon emissions, active adaptation, and effective with climate change.

Nevertheless, the nation will have to promote internal strength and take advantage of international assistance to encourage and support businesses, organizations, and individuals to increase investment in greenhouse gas emission reduction and change the growth model and take initiative in adaptation to climate change.

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