News
Created Date: 7/7/2013 5:19:00 PM

Green Economy

A “green economy” is one where environmental sustainability is integrated into economic planning and where economic growth is gentle to the environment.It is also one where specific efforts are made to addressing past neglects that have resulted in polluted the air and the water. A “green economy” is also one where climate change is an important factor in decisions across society to limit the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases (mitigation) and reduce the vulnerability to climate change (adaptation). “What is required is a paradigm shift to a new low-carbon development model with sustainable lifestyles,” said Jim Adams, World Bank vice president for the East Asia & Pacific region.

A “green economy” is one where environmental sustainability is integrated into economic planning and where economic growth is gentle to the environment.

It is also one where specific efforts are made to addressing past neglects that have resulted in polluted the air and the water. A “green economy” is also one where climate change is an important factor in decisions across society to limit the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases (mitigation) and reduce the vulnerability to climate change (adaptation). “What is required is a paradigm shift to a new low-carbon development model with sustainable lifestyles,” said Jim Adams, World Bank vice president for the East Asia & Pacific region.

Climate change is already a reality and will impact on Vietnam through changes in temperature, precipitation and perhaps more extreme climatic events. Projections for climate change in Vietnam this century vary considerably, but the most likely changes are increases in average temperature, drier dry seasons, wetter wet seasons, and an increase in sea level by 2100 of about 25-100 centimetres, which will also entail salt water intrusion in coastal areas. Uncertainty about future impacts is considerable, but should not stop Vietnam from investing in measures that can minimise the damage if adverse impacts occur.

Vietnam has successfully pulled millions of households out of poverty in the last decade, but most of the poor are still engaged in agriculture. To counter future climate change in Vietnam and to stimulate further growth it will be important to diversify the agricultural sector and increase its resilience to climate change. The World Bank has long been one of the leading partners of Vietnam in such investments, financing more than 20 large agriculture-focused investments over the last two decades. Further investments to develop climate-resilient crop varieties, enhance extension advice, protect land from salt water intrusion and sea level rise, will all be important.

Climate change also raises issues for long-term planning in water management. Hydropower and irrigation are sectors where investments must be “robust” enough to handle long-term changes in precipitation and runoff. The Mekong Delta is an area of particular concern also from these aspects and the World Bank is actively working with the Vietnamese government to find solutions.

It is possible that climate change will accentuate extreme climatic events in Vietnam. Even if there will not be an increase in extreme weather events, the current economic and human impacts of natural disasters in Vietnam already make this a critically important area for enhanced planning and investment in disaster risk reduction.

Investments are also needed to limit the emissions of greenhouse gases. The six major energy-using countries of East Asia could stabilise their greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 without compromising growth, a new World Bank report has found. The report, “Winds of Change: East Asia’s Sustainable Energy Future”, said major investments in energy efficiency and a concerted switch to renewable sources of power in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam could simultaneously stabilise greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy security while improving local environments.

The report urges governments to take immediate action to transform their energy sectors towards much higher efficiency and more widespread use of clean energy before it’s too late. “The window of opportunity is closing fast as delaying action would lock the region into long-lasting high-carbon infrastructure,” the report said. 

“The speed and scale of urbanisation presents an unrivalled opportunity to build low-carbon cities,” said Xiaodong Wang, lead author of the report and senior energy specialist for the World Bank. “The technical and policy means already exist for the necessary transformation, what is needed is political will and unprecedented international cooperation to meet the financing needs.”

Among the reports’ main recommendations:

* Policy and institutional reforms to achieve the huge energy efficiency potential in the region. A mix of energy pricing reforms, regulations such as economy-wide energy intensity targets, and financial incentives are required to promote energy conservation.

* Scaling-up renewable energy to meet a major proportion of power demand by 2030. This can be achieved through financial incentive policies for renewable energy (wind, biomass, small hydro, geothermal, and solar) or tax on fossil fuels to provide a level playing field between the renewables and fossil fuels.

* Accelerating innovation and new clean technologies. While proven technologies can meet the bulk of emissions reductions in the short- to medium-term, innovations and new technologies are critical to bending the emissions curve downwards over the long-term beyond 2030.

* Working across sectors for smart urban planning. Major reductions in energy demand and CO2 emissions can be achieved through smart urban planning based on higher density, more spatially compact cities, and more mixed-use design that allows growth near city centers and transit corridors to prevent urban sprawl. Smart urban planning also needs to go hand-in-hand with public transport and clean energy options such as green buildings and efficient vehicles.

* Developed countries need to transfer substantial financing and low-carbon technologies. Developing countries cannot do it alone. They need the support of the international community. Technology transfer and institutional strengthening is also needed. 

Climate change has brought in a new perspective on economic growth and the need for mitigation and adaptation. But the traditional environmental issues of air and water pollution are still as relevant as ever. Vietnam has experienced a remarkable industrial development since the 1980s. Industrial output grew at an annual rate of 16 per cent from 2000 to 2005 and about 7 per cent, per annum from 2006 to 2010. Key industries are food and beverages, oil and gas, chemical, metal, rubber and plastics, textiles and garments. Geographically, about 95 per cent of gross industrial outputs are produced in just four economic regions, i.e. the Red River Delta in the north, the central coast, southeast and Mekong River Delta.

Rapid growth and geographic concentration both imply great pressure on the natural surroundings and notably water pollution has been reported in the Nhue-Day river basin in the north and Dong Nai river basin in the south. Recognising this growing problem, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has listed industrial wastewater pollution as one of key threats to public health and land productivity in Vietnam. The World Bank is actively pursuing ways to support the efforts to address these problems.

Vietnam should continue on its path of economic growth and poverty alleviation, but needs to ensure that this is pursued in a manner that will provide a high-quality environment for its people. That is what “green growth” is all about.

(Vietnam Investment Review) 

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