Vietnam should walk the talk in climate actions

At least 50 million people in Vietnam will be exposed to the impacts of rising sea levels and more powerful tropical storms and typhoons, among other threats.


That 'red code' has been flagged in a 2018 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that modeled a scenario of 1.5 degrees Celsius rise in global temperatures above pre-industrial averages.

It lists Vietnam among the nine countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Other studies support this. The Global Climate Risk Index 2020 ranked Vietnam as the sixth most affected by climate variability and extreme weather events in the last two decades.

Climate change is projected to increase the frequency and intensity of natural disasters and extreme weather events in most areas, while droughts could become more severe in Vietnam due to rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall.

Even worse, these events will occur earlier than anticipated and be increasingly difficult to predict.

Born and raised in central Vietnam, my childhood was full of scary experiences in dealing with a dozen of tropical storms and floods, year over year. I couldn’t imagine how my family and friends there could live their lives with such enhanced natural disaster threats.

Speaking at the high-level open debate on climate security in the U.N. Security Council on September 23 in New York, President Nguyen Xuan Phuc said consecutive natural disasters have caused great losses to life and property in Vietnam.

The Mekong Delta, the heart of Vietnam's agricultural production, is witnessing record saline intrusion and lack of freshwater, jeopardizing the livelihoods and daily life of 20 million people and the food security of the country and region, he said.

He said climate change is "war without gunfire, so to speak, that causes economic damage and loss of life no less dire than actual wars and conflicts."

This echoed a statement delivered by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres a week earlier.

Launching the 'United in Science' Climate Report, he said we need to prevent further irreversible damage and warned governments that "we are out of time."

"Unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, we will be unable to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

"The consequences will be catastrophic."

The report highlighted that all countries need to present more ambitious and achievable nationally determined contributions that will by 2030 cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent compared to 2010 levels.

Nothing less will do.

People use an aluminum boat to travel through a flooded street in Bao Vinh town in Thua Thien-Hue Province, central Vietnam, November 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh