The Vietnam Green Growth Strategy Promises Sustainable Growth
In the face of increasing pressure on natural resources, Vietnam has demonstrated great commitment to sustainable growth and development. Launched in September 2012, the Vietnam Green Growth Strategy aims to restructure economic efficiency, cope with climate change and reduce poverty within the country.

Vietnam has experienced rapid growth in recent years, but this progress has also put pressure on the country’s natural resources. Poverty in Vietnam declined from 49.2 percent in 1993 to 3.2 percent in 2012.

As unfortunate side effects of this achievement, air pollution levels rose in major cities, rivers became more polluted, greenhouse gas emissions almost tripled between 2000 and 2010, and climate-related disasters began to devastate rural and coastal regions.

In response to increasing strains on the environment, the government adopted the Vietnam Green Growth Strategy in 2012, with the ultimate goal of creating a more sustainable footing for the national economy while further reducing poverty.

The Green Growth Strategy seeks to accomplish its goals largely by encouraging businesses to move towards greener practices and help new businesses develop along green lines. Focusing on business practice reform paves a strong foundation for lasting growth, as “green investment is good investment,” according to Pratibha Mehta, UNDP resident representative.

If successful, the strategy would reduce the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions by 8-10 percent as compared to the 2010 levels, reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 1.5 percent per year, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from energy activities by 10-20 percent as compared to standard current rates, and promote green lifestyles and sustainable consumption among Vietnamese citizens.

The World Bank is supporting Vietnam’s progress through investments that steer the energy sector towards lower carbon options. By focusing on restructuring the economy and business practices, Vietnam is showing a strong effort to create large-scale and lasting green growth.

The Vietnam Green Growth Strategy is further supported by a partnership between Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment, the United States Agency for International Development and the United Nations Development Program. This partnership assembled a supplemental framework that accelerates Vietnam’s ability to implement green growth policies. The Strengthening Capacity and Institutional Reform for Green Growth and Sustainable Development in Vietnam project supports capacity building and encourages policy reform along Green Growth lines.

Thus far, five ministries and almost 30 localities in Vietnam have implemented green growth strategies. The steps taken include resource mobilization, institutional and policy improvement, capacity enhancement, and technology improvement.

The Vietnam Green Growth Strategy is guiding both rural and urban development toward substantial and sustainable growth. By integrating green growth with national policies, the initiative is positioning Vietnam to achieve the sustainable development goals.

McKenna Lux

Photo: Flickr

Wind Turbines: New Direction for Paris Agreement
With the objective of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and fostering sustainable development, the Paris Agreement was developed to reduce carbon emission levels globally. The agreement was opened for signature on 22 April 2016 where 175 countries signed the global action plan at a ceremony in New York.

However, countries must engage in ratification to complete the pledge. Only 19 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement. Ratification involves undertaking economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets and enhancing their mitigating efforts to reduce carbon emission.

The agreement moved forward after 55 countries that account for approximately 55 percent of global emissions ratified it. U.S. and China have both agreed to ratify the Paris Agreement this year. Underdeveloped countries and small islands qualify for ratification by developing and preparing strategies for low greenhouse emissions reflecting their circumstances.

With the latest hopes to replace oil with wind turbines to lower greenhouse gasses, John Coequyt, director of the Sierra Club’s federal and international climate campaigns, declared that the Paris agreement included “all the core elements that the environmental community wanted.” Countries that have pledged to the agreement are solely responsible for their emission level as the agreement seeks to limit global warming to 2°C by the year 2020.

The Paris Agreement has also contributed to the boost in wind turbine sales which has proven to be a lucrative venture. “The COP21 agreement will provide the basis for additional public support and financing in growth regions, which should offset this development in the longer term,” said Moody’s Managing Director of Corporate Finance, Matthias Hellstern

The EU and other developing countries have agreed to continue to support environmentally friendly practices and positive impacts on climate change. The Paris Agreement has paved the way for wind turbines to be the main source of energy for developing countries and the solution to curbing high urban pollution levels.

Shanique Wright

Photo: Flickr

Over the past few years, the debate around climate change has shifted dramatically. The global community has accepted that not only is global warming happening, but that human beings are the ones causing it. This realization has led to a surge in advocacy for pollution-reduction programs, perhaps the most striking of which is the growing push for an international cap-and-trade program on carbon dioxide. Among these new advocates for climate responsibility are historically recalcitrant countries like South Africa and China. In total, 73 countries and 11 states and provinces – a list responsible for 54 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions – have shown support for an international price on carbon.

The general effects of global warming are, at this point, well known. Over the next decades, the world will experience a higher average temperature, melting polar ice, rising sea levels and more extreme cycles of droughts and floods. Every country in the world will be affected, and the countries around the equator are likely to be hardest-hit economically as well as environmentally. The countries surrounding the equator are, for the most part, economically fragile and rely more on agriculture than on industry. Drastic changes in local climates could decimate the crops these countries rely on and thus destroy their economies.

Most predictions by climate scientists posit that if the current levels of greenhouse gas emissions hold steady, these predicted changes will happen quickly and irreversibly. Most experts now agree that the only way to avert total environmental disaster is to dramatically curb the pollutants being emitted and to do it fast.

The most promising method of curbing emissions is called cap-and-trade. Under a cap-and-trade system, a limit is set on the pollutant in question by a governing body. This cap can be gradually tightened over time, giving emitters a predictable time frame in which to reduce their emissions. The limit-setter, whether it be a state government, a country’s congress or the U.N. itself, then issues a finite number of permits to the companies who emit the pollutants. The companies can bid on the permits, trading for them in an open market.

Under a cap-and-trade system, a limited number of permits will enforce the determined optimal level of emissions. Companies participating in the permit market have a chance of making some extra money by selling permits they do not need.

The countries in favor of the system say they are looking for a predictable and enforceable emission reduction policy. They hope to capture the success of the emissions markets already active in places like the European Union and California. The permit auctions for pollutants like Sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide have proven especially lucrative for the California state government, which hopes to use its windfall for other environmentally-friendly initiatives like subsidized bus fare or to clean up urban rivers.

Hopefully, this new global concern for the environment is more than a passing fad. As many environmental economists have been saying for years, a well-designed cap-and-trade program could be the key to environmental protection without economic sacrifice.

– Marina Middleton

Sources: World Bank, EDF, Biz Journals, Sac Bee, Center for Global Development, IETA, Union of Concerned Scientists
Photo: Globe-Net

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have been identified as having a significant impact on environmental problems through changes in the climate. Although carbon dioxide is the most abundant anthropogenic greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, United States President Barack Obama’s administration has begun taking steps to decrease methane emissions.

Methane makes up only 9 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas pollution, yet it has 20 times the potency of carbon dioxide. This allows for the gas to have a significant impact on the global climate. Moreover, methane emissions largely come from leaks in oil and natural gas production, various agricultural processes and melting permafrost.

During a 2009 United Nations climate change conference, Obama declared that the U.S. would decrease its GHG emissions 17 percent by 2020. Since then, environmentalists have argued that a substantial reduction of climate change impacts would require methane emissions to be addressed. And although a methane reduction strategy has been around for a while, the natural gas industry has been able to expand rapidly regardless of its connection to methane emissions.

The White House has stated that the Environmental Protection Agency plans to assess methane emissions and develop a strategic plan of action that is proportionate to the severity of impacts.

Reducing methane pollution may require for regulatory actions to be taken towards the oil and natural gas industry. If that is the case, there will be more of a need for U.S. to realize its renewable energy potential. This means the U.S. government would have to take meaningful steps to allow for offshore wind to develop on the Atlantic coast with solar and geothermal energy expansion in the West. It is possible, but political will and coordination on multiple levels of both the public and private sector will be necessary.

A shale-gas revolution has defined contemporary energy policy. Abundance in natural gas seemingly allowed for the heavy-emitting coal industry to be phased out for cleaner energy sources. However, analysis on methane’s impact on the global climate indicates that the effects are still significant and the GHG has to be reduced.

Therefore, with the Obama administration’s announcement of plans to cut methane emissions, it seems as though renewable energy would be the ideal avenue for energy policy.

– Jugal Patel

Sources: Reuters, New York Times
Photo: Ars Technica

Impacts of climate change in the form of drastic changes to rainfall patterns, prolonged droughts, loss of soil fertility, biodiversity and the like are stated to be key factors in growing poverty in Ghana.

Agriculture is expected to be hit hard in particular, as major crop yields will decrease in Ghana if certain adaptations are not made. Because climate impacts increase the volatility in food production, Ghana will need to develop and expand a climate-resilient agricultural sector to maintain food security.

In addition, Ghana’s coasts are severely threatened by coastal erosion. The booming coastal population of Ghana has already seen instances of displacement become necessary and will continue to do so at a greater rate. Beach erosion, intensive flooding and saltwater permeation into the water table will render the coastal regions as areas that will be difficult or impossible to develop.

In order to reduce the nation’s influence on climate change, institutions spanning community organizations, nongovernmental organizations and service agencies will need to integrate sustainable practices into their operations. The efforts would move Ghana towards carbon neutrality and further minimize its contributions to greenhouse gas emissions.

To alleviate some of the issues presented, the Ministry for Food and Agriculture in Ghana has set up a task force to analyze the country’s course of development within the context of climate change. With the goal of establishing progressive policy that is able to implement adaptations to climate change impacts throughout Ghana, the task force hopes to decrease the vulnerability of the nation.

Dr. Ahmed Alhassan, the Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, accordingly stated, “Ghana was among the most vulnerable countries in Africa to the impacts of climate change because most of its population depended on agriculture and particularly rain-fed agriculture.”

Because of new information in regards to the extent of climate related impacts on the stability of Ghana, workshops and conferences on climate change impacts have become frequent. The Ghana Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security has also been heavily involved in putting together conferences; these conferences include farmer-based organizations, NGOs, religious bodies, researchers, academia and policy makers.

Adapting to climate change impacts is a difficult task for many reasons, especially since the issue operates on many levels that require for it to be addressed from multiple angles. Due to Ghana’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, the nation is taking significant measures towards addressing the issue. With the help of organizations spanning various areas of society, Ghana will continue to establish food security for its future.

– Jugal Patel 

Sources: GhanaWeb, All Africa, Al Jazeera, IFPRI
Photo: GWP