Domestic climate change study paints bleak picture for Vietnam

By Bao Cam, Thanh Nien News

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Villagers row past their flooded homes in the central province of Ha Tinh following Typhoon Nari in October 2013. Photo: AFP Villagers row past their flooded homes in the central province of Ha Tinh following Typhoon Nari in October 2013. Photo: AFP


Vietnam is suffering increasing damage from climate change, according to a recent report by a parliamentary committee.
A report by the Committee of Science, Technology and Environment presented to the National Assembly, Vietnam’s legislature, showed that Vietnam is among the countries to be hit hardest by climate change in the coming years.
Natural disasters have cost the country around 1.5 percent of its annual gross domestic product (GDP) in the past two decades, the report said, citing findings of a study conducted by the committee. Typhoon Xangsane, for example, caused US$1.2 billion of damage in the central region in 2006.
Officials said Vietnam has yet to become a major greenhouse gas emitter, but its emissions continue to rise.
“The threat of climate change has grown more vivid in Vietnam over the past 50 years,” the report said.
“The average temperature increased by 0.5 degree Celsius, the sea rose more than 0.2 meters, natural disasters, floods and typhoons grew stronger and left many dykes became more vulnerable,” it said.
“Flooding caused by high tide has worsened in Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, and the Mekong Delta’s Ca Mau and Vinh Long provinces.”
According to the report, areas suffering from the salinization of ground water and/or desertification have expanded due to rising temperatures.
Without proper intervention, it warned, around 45 percent of water in the Mekong Delta, the country’s rice basket, will be salinized by 2030, causing around $17 billion in damages.
Climate change and rising sea levels will threaten the delta’s sensitive ecology, including the beautiful flooded reserves like Tram Chim, U Minh Thuong, Lang Sen, and Tra Su; and make natural disasters in the delta irregular in the next three decades as its temperature rises from 33-35 to 35-37 degrees Celsius, the study suggested.
Agricultural productivity will drop as natural resources wither and decline, it said.
Officials from the committee said the impacts on the delta will prove particularly difficult to calculate as they will vary between provinces and even within districts and communes.
For example, Tra Vinh, Ben Tre and Ca Mau are expected to suffer from significant erosion, while Can Tho and Vinh Long struggle with flooding caused by high tides.
“So we must prepare a range of suitable solutions,” the report said.
It suggested that delta authorities increase public participation in addressing climate change, such as planting and restoring coastal mangrove forests.
The government should make climate change adaptation an annual socio-economic development issue and help raise proper funds to do so from within and outside the country, it said.

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