While still in its early stages, concerns about Vietnam’s economy’s rapid growth’s damage to the local environment are on a steady rise. Expanding at staggering rates – Vietnam’s GDP is again forecast to total at around 7% in 2022 – the protection and conservation of the country’s natural beauties are becoming a bigger challenge for the Vietnamese people (many of which still “live off the land”) each year.
Like much of the developing world, Vietnam’s growth is still mainly propelled by fossil fuels, which are traditionally cheaper and more easily available than alternative energy sources that are based on modern technologies like renewable energies. Considerations about the environmental impact of old technologies and traditionally “dirty industries” (like cement or aluminium production) are only slowly being injected into the national discourse. International organisations and experts forecast that Vietnam’s energy demand is expected to keep aggressively growing. Demand is expected to multiply 15 times by 2050 and domestic carbon emissions from energy consumption are set to increase 26-fold in the first half of the 21st century.
Laying another important landmark on Vietnam’s path to reducing its environmental footprint, Deputy Prime Minister Le Van Thanh recently signed Decision No. 450/QD-TTg (Decision) that approves the new National Strategy for Environmental Protection to 2030 with a vision until 2050. In this urgently needed piece of legislation, the Vietnamese lawmaker reconsiders the social and economic importance of environmental protection and assigns new duties to respective government agencies. The Vietnamese government targets to mitigate the impacts of pollution, solve urgent environmental problems, and gradually improve and restore the quality of the environment. The timing of this Decision seems right. On 30 January 2022, the Vietnamese Government Office had already issued Notice No. 30/TB-VPCP, regarding Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh’s conclusions from the first meeting of the national steering committee for the implementation of Vietnam’s commitments at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).
The Decision proposes a scheme that includes enhancing the country’s capacity to cope with climate change, ensuring environmental security, and building and developing circular, green, low-carbon economic models, contributing to achieving the country’s sustainable development goals. To this end, the Decision’s strategy gives a number of key solutions, including actively preventing and controlling negative impacts on the environment and environmental incidents, encouraging ecological and circular economic development, green growth, and promoting sustainable production and consumption. These regulations introduce environmental zoning to enhance the efficiency of strategic environmental evaluation, environmental impact assessment, and environmental management based on environmental permits.
Authorities are assigned to closely supervise facilities with typically high-risk projects, which may cause environmental pollution. The monitoring and observation of environmental impacts and their prevention will also be tied into a cross-border matrix to mitigate regional and global pollution issues. A core incentive of these new rules is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach carbon neutrality by 2050 on the back of the pledges made by Vietnam at COP26. A good example to this end is the Decisions pledge to implement the Scheme for planting 1 billion trees for 2021–2025 which was previously published under the Prime Minister’s Decision No. 524/QD-TTg dated 1 April 2021.
For more information, please contact:
Leif Schneider / Senior Associate
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This legal update is not an advice and should not be treated as such.
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