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June 15, 2024
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Vietnam’s Green Push Can’t Mask Environmental Lapses

In a bid to reduce fuel dependency and achieve greater sustainability, Vietnam has significantly amended its national energy framework and implemented incentives to stimulate local investment in renewable energy sources, with the ambitious goal of meeting nearly half of the country’s energy needs through renewables by 2030.

As part of ongoing efforts to reduce heavy fossil fuel dependency to reach its net zero emissions target by 2050, the Communist Party of Vietnam released the Power Development Plan 8 in 2023, committing a third of Vietnam’s energy mix to solar and wind and decreasing coal’s share to 20 per cent by 2030.

Vietnam also became a recipient of the US$15.5 billion Just Energy Transition Partnership in 2022, setting goals to retire coal plants early, improve power transmission grids, and further expand the share of renewables to meet almost half of the country’s energy needs by 2030.

Despite the noticeable progress in local renewables deployment, Vietnam continues to grapple with implementing regulations against one longstanding environmental problem: industrial wastewater.

In 2016, a Taiwanese steel company in central Vietnam was found guilty of pumping toxic waste into the nearby sea, killing at least one diver and poisoning more than 140 tons of fish and aquatic animals. Citizens became enraged when state officials remained silent for months over the cause of pollution, only briefly alluding to an industrial chemical spill without initiating further investigation.

At the same time, the state of the environment has emerged as a key concern among the Vietnamese public in the aftermath of highly publicised industrial pollution disasters. Within Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index reports published between 2015 and 2022, the environment consistently appeared as one of the top ten concerns among Vietnamese respondents, alongside ongoing concerns about poverty, economic growth and corruption.

Within local and international efforts targeting Vietnam’s ongoing energy insecurity and fossil fuel reliance, the push for renewables has solidified the state’s commitments to greening the energy mix and mitigating pollution.

Full report on EastAsiaForum

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