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Vietnam: Assessing the impact of climate mitigation initiatives

19 August 2022

Viet Nam is rich in biodiversity, and is home to diverse ecosystems including forests, mangroves, coral reefs and seagrass, all of which Viet Nam is committed to protecting. Yet, at the same time, Viet Nam is reliant on greenhouse gas intensive agriculture and a flourishing energy sector; a challenge the Viet Namese authorities are ready to tackle to play their part in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, while meeting the country’s sustainable development goals (SDG).

Viet Nam ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1994; the Kyoto Protocol in 2002 and the Paris Agreement in 2016. The country submitted its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in 2015, with an updated submission in 2020. In its updated NDC, Viet Nam unconditionally committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 9 per cent by 2030, and conditionally by 27 per cent by 2030.Viet Nam has pledged to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Viet Nam, one of the developing countries most affected by climate change, is committed to respond to climate change, as well as actively participate in the international community to implement the ultimate objectives of UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement,” stated Tran Hong Ha, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Viet Nam.

The Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT), in collaboration with UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre (UNEP-CCC) and the Italian Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale (ISPRA), provided support to Viet Nam to develop its greenhouse gas monitoring, reporting and verification system, in line with the enhanced transparency framework of the Paris Agreement.

Dr Henning Wuester, ICAT Director, explained that thoroughly assessing national climate policies was vital.

“A full assessment of national climate policies, including those needed to implement the NDC is important. This helps to ensure that policies are effective in preventing the growth or actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and that, at the same time, they are in line with national development objectives. The ICAT project in Viet Nam showed how sound policy assessments could help drive NDC implementation and long-term ambition,” he said.

The ICAT project in Viet Nam focused on the energy and agricultural sectors, and included activities related to the implementation of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.

Investigating renewable energy

Energy is by far the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the country, accounting for about 65 per cent of total emissions, particularly carbon dioxide. Viet Nam is committed to replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources, particularly solar and wind power. 

The project used ICAT’s Greenhouse Gas Abatement Cost MOdel (GACMO) to assess the greenhouse gas mitigation potential and costs of the selected policies in the energy sector. GACMO calculates and visualizes a comparison of the business-as-usual scenario with selected mitigation scenarios to support the analysis of greenhouse gas mitigation options and their cost.It helps policy makers mitigation options in terms of their effectiveness, emissions reduction potential, and costs. 

Using ICAT’s renewable energy and sustainable development assessment guides, Viet Nam learned that renewable energy options came with many advantages and challenges. Besides the obvious greenhouse gas emission reductions, the study found renewables could create twice as many jobs as the fossil fuel sector per average installed megawatt. Some of the challenges learned included having to grow the tertiary education sector to train skilled workers in renewable energy technology, system stability challenges, and the fact that much of the renewable energy would only be available in the day, meaning that other energy sources would need to be maintained for night-time energy.

Dr Wuester pointed to Viet Nam’s investigation of renewable energies as an example of how a country can transform its economy in a direction that is good for the climate and good for development.

This assessment into renewable energy enables a country like Viet Nam to join the global energy transformation currently under way, contributing to global climate action while at the same time creating jobs for the future, improving people’s access to electricity, and reducing dependency on fuel imports,” he said.

Agriculture is central to sustainable development

Viet Nam considers agriculture to be central to achieving many of the SDGs. Investing in the agricultural sector could address hunger, malnutrition, and other challenges such as poverty, water and energy use, climate change and unsustainable production and consumption.

On the other hand, agriculture is also responsible for about 27 per cent of Viet Nam’s greenhouse gas emissions, particularly methane and nitrous oxide. And rice cultivation is responsible for the lion’s share of that amount. 

Viet Nam is one of the world’s major rice exporters, with rice paddies making up about 75 per cent of the approximate 10 million hectares of agricultural land in the country. 

In 2020, Viet Nam implemented the system of rice intensification (SRI) combined with alternate wetting and drying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. SRI is a farming method that raises rice yields through using specific planting and spacing techniques, organic fertilization and other methods. Irrigation is performed intermittently, preventing constant flooding of the paddies.This method has been found to greatly reduce methane emissions without offsetting increases in nitrous oxide emissions.

Using ICAT’s agriculture and sustainable development assessment guides, Viet Nam assessed the impact of SRI and wetting and drying. The analysis showed that SRI was able to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, a variety of benefits were found, including the use of lower seed numbers, less fertilizer and pesticide use, and lower water volumes for irrigation.  Productivity increased thereby increasing economic efficiency compared to the traditional rice production method. 

Transparency needs and gap assessment

The ICAT project also delivered a needs and gap assessment of monitoring, reporting and verification in the energy and the agriculture, forestry and other land use sectors. The assessment highlighted that a monitoring, reporting and verification system for the energy and agriculture sectors, and relevant sub-sectors, was needed.  It also highlighted the need for a common emissions baseline at the state and sectoral levels. This could help to develop a foundation for the implementation and evaluation of relevant mitigation projects

In addition, it found that capacity building exercises were needed to improve statistical surveys, data management and greenhouse gas inventories. Finally, it showed that adequate methodologies and guidelines to track implementation progress of significant energy and agriculture policies in the NDC were necessary. 

The ICAT project also included a baseline setting for the actions in the energy sector integrated with sectoral monitoring, reporting and verification allowing for attracting result-based finance through the mechanisms of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. 

Vietnam: Assessing the impact of climate mitigation initiatives

Find out more about ICAT’s work in Viet Nam here.

ICAT Tools and Methodologies used in this project included:


Renewable Energy Methodology

Sustainable Development Methodology

Agriculture Methodology