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Building transparency systems to meet climate targets: Viet Nam leading the way in tracking NDC implementation

10 February 2022

For decades, Viet Nam has had one of the fastest growing economies in Southeast Asia. Economic development has been key to improving quality of life and reducing the poverty rate. While economic growth remains a high priority for the Vietnamese government, its policies simultaneously support long-term sustainable development. 

Viet Nam is committed to working with the international community to respond to climate change, which is reflected in its national policies and specific actions. In 2020, Viet Nam’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) set a target of reducing total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) emissions by 9 percent, equivalent to 83.9 million tons CO2eq, by 2030 compared to business as usual. 

“Viet Nam may be one of the first developing countries to include its NDC commitments into its domestic legal system for widespread implementation,” said Pham Van Tan, Deputy Director General for Climate Change, MInistry of Natural Resources and Environment of Viet Nam. “In November 2020, the national assembly adopted the Law on Environmental Protection, including a chapter on climate change adaptation, GHG mitigation, carbon markets and responsibilities for implementation of Viet Nam’s NDC commitments.”

To achieve the goals set out in its updated NDC, Viet Nam needed to establish and operate Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) systems at the national, provincial and sectoral levels. Up until then, there had been no official guidelines or regulations for tracking activities at a national scale – and progress for developing MRV systems for GHG mitigation had been very limited as a result of limited resources, capabilities and experience needed to establish and operate an MRV system.

Why is tracking NDCs important?

Tracking progress of NDCs is not only useful at the national level, but it also informs collective, global progress under the Paris Agreement. Nationally, tracking progress of NDC implementation can help governments better understand whether and to what extent efforts are needed to achieve the NDC. The information provided by each Party in their Biennial Transparency Report (BTR) will inform the global stocktake, which in turn assesses global progress and whether actions need to be updated or enhanced to reach the Paris Agreement’s objectives. 

Tracking NDCs is a requirement under the Paris Agreement’s Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF). It requires transparent quantitative and qualitative information on the implementation and achievement of the NDC, including indicators comparing current or projected emissions, and information that helps better understand the NDC target and its impacts.

The report Proposed indicators for domestic MRV purposes and tracking progress of NDCs provides countries with relevant examples of indicators which can be used in pursuing domestic monitoring tasks as well as in reporting on progress towards the implementation and achievement of NDCs.

“In order for the MRV system to be a success, Viet Nam needs to develop guidelines, tools and capacity for all who will be involved in the MRV system,” added Ha Quang Anh, Director of Ozone Layer Protection and Low Carbon Economy Development Center (CCOZONE), Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Viet Nam. 

In early January this year, Viet Nam made a clear step in this direction by issuing a Decree on GHG Mitigation and Ozone Layer Protection. The Decree establishes an MRV system at national, sectorial and facility levels, and acts as a comprehensive system for tracking GHG emissions and reduction efforts in the country. 

Helping to track progress

To support Viet Nam’s efforts to establish a domestic MRV system for tracking progress of NDC implementation in line with the requirements of the ETF of the Paris Agreement, ICAT helped the country to assess the progress of NDC implementation in two key sectors: energy and agriculture.

With a particular focus on two leading GHG contributor sectors, ICAT’s tools and methodologies were used to help enhance an MRV framework and system that will enable tracking and management of GHG emissions from large emission sources and sectors, and track the impacts of domestic mitigation actions. The system will also support the international reporting of emissions in the national GHG emission inventory and through the BTR and national communications to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

According to Mr. Tan, a major benefit for countries to partner with ICAT is the network of technical experts all over the world and the series of policy assessment guides. Mr. Quang Anh also states that “the ICAT methodologies are tailored to the needs and circumstances of Viet Nam to ensure broad applicability and broad support.”

Energy

To track the progress of its NDC implementation in the energy sector, ICAT supported the Vietnamese government to apply ICAT methodologies and tools to renewable energy policies. In this case, solar PV and wind energy policies were assessed using ICAT’s renewable energy and sustainable development methodologies, as well as the GACMO tool. 

According to Karen Olsen, Senior Researcher at UNEP DTU Partnership, “this provided a stepwise approach for estimating the effects of policy design characteristics, economic and financial factors, and other barriers on the potential for renewable energy policies to achieve impact.“

Such impact assessments also serve to inform and improve the design and implementation of future policies. 

The regulation of Viet Nam’s energy sector is complex and relies on a large number of system interdependencies across several ministries. Up until now, it was identified that measurement activities for the energy sector had not been streamlined. Ministries and sectors had not provided sufficient data, and discrepancies existed. Reporting had also been inconsistent and the establishment of a third party to verify the project had not been done. 

To enhance Viet Nam’s tracking and mitigation activities, ICAT helped to establish an emission scenario  for the sector, evaluating the emission reduction impacts of the selected sectoral policies. The project also helped to establish an organizational structure, institutions, laws and legal documents for the development of MRV systems and, importantly, to strengthen overall stakeholder capacity.

Agriculture

At a global level , agriculture remains to be a major source of GHG emissions. According to the 2014 GHG inventory of Viet Nam, the amount of GHG emissions from agricultural production in 2010 was 88.3 million tons of CO2eq, accounting for around 33 percent of total national GHG emissions. The government has issued a number of policies related to socio-economic development, green growth and low-carbon agriculture aimed to reduce these emissions.  

In collaboration with stakeholders from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and other relevant ministries, a policy on an alternative wetting and drying system for rice intensification was assessed for its impact on GHG emissions and transformational change potential. 

ICAT experts supported Viet Nam in the application of the 2006 IPCC Guidelines which, focussing on the rice cultivation category in their GHG national inventory, proved to be a key tool to monitor the implementation of policies and measures. Similar to the energy sector, the measurement of agricultural GHG emissions and inventory activities had relied on international guidance until now.

Lessons learned

Viet Nam’s updated NDC and its efforts to strengthen its MRV system through improved data and tracking tools exemplify the country’s commitment to emissions reduction and sustainable development. 

In order to maximize these efforts, Viet Nam must continue to enhance its MRV system at national, provincial and sectoral levels. This includes the construction of  emission scenarios at national level, for the key economic sectors, to help develop an accurate and transparent foundation for the implementation and evaluation of relevant mitigation actions. Further capacity building across all sectors is essential to improve and streamline data to be used in the GHG inventory. And lastly, appropriate indicators and methods, in line with the requirements set out by the Enhanced Transparency Framework of the Paris Agreement, which can track the progress of NDC implementation and achievement should be utilized.

A key learning identified from the project was that “only when responsibilities, roles, tasks and implementation instructions of the coordinating unit as well as the unit implementing the NDC are clearly assigned, then the development of the MRV system can be much faster,” highlighted Ms. Olsen. 

ICAT’s evaluation of the aforementioned energy and agriculture policies in Viet Nam has helped the country’s policy-makers and other decision-makers to better understand the impacts of such actions, leading the government to be able to develop effective and transformational strategies for achieving GHG mitigation and broader sustainable development objectives.

Furthermore, more frequent interaction via virtual meetings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic enabled project stakeholders to have in-depth question and answer sessions which lead to stronger project delivery. According to Marina Vitullo, Researcher at the Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), the virtual settings have highlighted particular transparency challenges and established new modes for capacity building.

2021 and beyond

“Responding to climate change is now a requirement by Law in Viet Nam – and implementing its NDC now has a high level of interest from the government, the private sector, the international community and others in Viet Nam,” said Mr. Tan.

Moving forward, ICAT will continue to provide technical support to Viet Nam, helping the country to enhance its MRV system, develop and improve its policies and institutions, as well as continue building capacity to better manage and implement national mitigation efforts.

 

Building transparency systems to meet climate targets: Viet Nam leading the way in tracking NDC implementation

For even more information about ICAT’s work in Viet Nam, please contact the ICAT Secretariat.