Vietnam's growth faces unclean energy threat: Finnish minister

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Vietnam's economy will face a serious sustainable development challenge if it does not adopt clean and efficient energy practices, Finnish labor minister Anni Sinnemäki said early this week.

Sinnemäki, who was leading a Finnish business delegation on a visit to Vietnam this week, said Vietnam, as one of ten countries where climate change would have the most serious impacts, should consider alternatives as it develops.

"I am very impressed with the economic growth here in Vietnam but worried for people who have suffered the impact of climate change," the minister said in a meeting of Vietnamese and Finnish businesses, also attended by her Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan.

Production and consumption have increased around the globe while the "biocapacity" of the planet has decreased, creating an ecological and environmental imbalance on earth, she said.

Climate change was a challenge not for Vietnam and its government but for the entire world and all the governments, said the minister.

Sinnemäki said the Vietnamese government's policy to support and encourage local businesses to achieve energy efficiency in production was a good measure to fight climate change.

Vietnamese labor minister Ngan said Vietnam was on the recovery road after the global crisis and needed modern and energy efficient technologies to develop sustainably.

She said the use of old technologies in production was a trend in the country that it had a bearing on climate change.

The Vietnamese government has asked local businesses to choose clean and energy efficient solutions, and called on foreign investors to introduce and transfer modern technologies to Vietnam, Ngan said.

Sinnemäki said Finland has been one of the world's leading countries in developing clean and energy efficient technologies for decades and would share this with local businesses.

Santtu Hulkkonen, executive director of Cleantech Finland, said Finnish businesses considered Vietnam a potential market and some companies like Kemira have been present here for years, seeking new opportunities.

Cleantech Finland is a collective of 2,000 firms that specialize in many areas including energy efficiency, clean industrial processes, renewable energy, waste management and wastewater treatment.

The group said in a statement that Vietnam has a large demand for wastewater treatment and environmentally friendly energy sources.

Emissions from fossil fuel combustion and wastewater released by industrial processes have damaged the environment and affected people's lives, the group said.

Hulkkonen told Thanh Nien Weekly Finnish firms were at present involved in ten projects, worth about 100 million euros, that deal with transferring clean and energy efficient technologies to Vietnam. About 13 to 20 other projects worth 40 to 50 million euros were about to be implemented, he said.

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