Vietnam wants to enhance co-operation with the international community to promote renewable energy, invest in new technologies and implement projects for environmental protection, Deputy Prime Minister Phạm Bình Minh said at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Conference on Climate Change Response held in Cần Thơ City on June 19.
Minh said climate change is a global challenge that does not respect national borders and requires international co-operation not only to mitigate the impacts of calamities but also adopt stricter standards on environmental protection and move towards a low-carbon economy.
He encouraged co-operation between Asia and Europe to make the industrialisation and urbanisation process in each ASEM member country become more environmentally friendly and less energy-intensive.
Organised by the foreign affairs and environment ministries, the two-day meeting brought together 200 government officials, senior policymakers, researchers, academics, entrepreneurs and other stake holders from 53 ASEM member states and international organisations.
It sought to act as a forum to exchange views and share information on adaptation measures against climate change and mitigation of the negative impacts of climate change.
Delegates identified and discussed the main impacts of climate change like changing weather patterns, rising sea levels and extreme weather.
Climate change is caused by greenhouse gas emissions by human activities, which are now at their highest levels ever.
Without action, the world’s average surface temperature is projected to rise by 3 degrees Celsius this century, with some areas expected to warm even more.
The poorest and most vulnerable people are set to be affected the most.
Affordable, scalable solutions are therefore urgently needed to enable countries to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies, as are a range of other measures that will mitigate emissions and strengthen adaptation efforts.
For climate change mitigation, Camilla Fenning, head of South East Asia, Climate & Energy Network, at the UK Foreign Commonwealth Office discussed a technique for capturing greenhouse gases, called carbon capture and storage (CCS) that has been developed in some countries to trap emissions at power plants for underground or underwater storage.
Fenning said the benefit of CCS is that it allows the continued use of fossil-fuelled power stations such as gas and coal while preventing CO2 emissions from reaching the atmosphere.
“However, it also has some limitations like the possibility of the gases leaking back into the atmosphere, high costs of power plants if CCS is included and the large energy needs of CCS,” she admitted.
“Besides, it contradicts the long-standing principle of pollution prevention, which holds that the cheapest and most effective way of dealing with pollution is to avoid creating it in the first place.”
Fenning therefore suggested that instead of using high-risk techniques like the CCS, countries should consider using safer and cheaper methods such as developing fuel-efficient vehicles to reduce energy consumption and growing more trees so that the forests can hold more carbon.
Leila Yim Surratt, head of strategy and engagement at the Partnering for Green Growth and Global Goals 2030 initiative, said another solution is to increase the use of clean energy such as solar power.
“Not only does clean energy make climate sense, it also makes economic sense since it is the cheapest energy nowadays,” she said.
“But to scale up investments in clean, green infrastructure and decide on major infrastructure plans over the coming years, leadership from the finance and investment community and by local, regional and national governments are needed,” she said.
She encouraged businesses, governments and civil society organisations to divest from fossil fuels and forge partnerships that would invest in resilient, low-emission infrastructure.
For climate change adaptation, several solutions were proposed at the event, including moving infrastructure off expanding floodplains, switching to crops that prefer the new climate and with a different growing season and addressing coastal erosion.
Vietnam programme for building or reinforcing rural houses with typhoon- and flood-resistant features was well received by delegates.
Prof Vũ Kim Chi of Vietnam National University’s Institute of Vietnamese Studies and Development Sciences, said the programme provides selected households with conditional cash grants and consultations by local engineers on house design, availability of materials and skilled local labour so that they can adjust their houses according to their individual needs.
Not only do these houses improve people’s living standards, they also provide a lasting solution for climate change adaptation in the Mekong Delta, she said.