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Mar 26, 2022 / 11:39

Vietnam warned of 6°C rise by century end

As one of the few hardest-hit countries by climate change, Vietnam is urged to take drastic measures to curb impacts that will not appear in the distant future.

Temperatures could rise as much as 6°C in Vietnam at the end of this century in the worst-case scenario if no drastic measures are taken, causing disastrous consequences for people and the environment.

Accordingly, the northern part of the country could experience more intense warming than the southern part and sea levels would rise between one and two meters in coastal areas.

 Average temperature increase in Vietnam 1981-2018: Source: Prof. Ngo Duc Thanh, University of Science and Technology of Hanoi (USTH)

These findings emerged from research conducted by GEMMES Vietnam, a joint project between the Government of Vietnam and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the French international development agency.

GEMMES researchers used the latest dataset from the World Climate Research Program to model Vietnam’s climate under several climate policy scenarios. The 6°C scenario is based on assumption that current global trends in greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked. Vietnam will see a more moderate 1.3°C temperature increase if the Paris Climate Agreement commitments are kept.

Such concerns have been revealed in a workshop marking the participation of both Vietnamese and French experts, including environmental and development economist Étienne Espagne who specializes in policies in emerging and developing countries, Associate Prof. Ngo Duc Thanh from University of Science and Technology of Hanoi (USTH), one of the scientists behind the GEMMES report study, and Dr. Truong Tri Quang from Can Tho University who joined the GEMMES study. 

GEMMES scientists caution that such extreme warming may severely impact agricultural output, render many cities and villages inhabitable, and subject much of the country to greater frequency and severity of natural disasters – all within the lifetimes of people already alive today.

“As the rise in mean temperature accelerates, we will soon witness new extremes in hot weather,” said Associate Prof. Ngo Duc Thanh from the University of Science and Technology of Hanoi, one of the scientists behind the GEMMES report study. “If 35°C has previously been seen as a high temperature value, it will become the new normal with the advent of new future highs of 40 or 45°C. This can lead to dangerous consequences to human lives and habitats if we cannot adapt fast enough to the changes,” he added.  

The findings were revealed in a webinar held on March 9, part of ongoing seminars and webinars organized by AFD to discuss and build on the findings of “Climate Change in Vietnam – Impacts and Adaptation”, a special report produced by the GEMMES Viet Nam Project on the occasion of the COP26 Climate Conference in 2021.

Regarding macroeconomic impacts, the warming might cause direct damages on the economy that would be measured by gross domestic product (GDP). As such, the scenario of 1°C rise would lead to the 1.8% GDP decline and the respective figures could be 1.5°C and 4.5%, 2°C and 6.7%, and 3°C and 10.8%.

 Drought in the Mekong Delta province of Long An. Photo: VNA

Mekong delta in spotlight

The Mekong Delta appears to be a “hot zone” in Vietnam that is exposed to different consequences of climate change and extreme weather namely intense droughts, saltwater intrusion, depression, rising sea levels, among others, according to Dr. Truong Tri Quang.

The situation requires prompt mitigation scenarios in the region that is essential for the nation’s food security as it supplies 56% of Vietnam’s rice volume, the expert said in extracting the “Climate Change in Vietnam – Impacts and Adaptation” report that is contributed by Marie-Noëlle Woillez, Nguyen Hieu Trung, Philip Minderhoud, Sepehr Eslami, Alexis Drogoul, Huynh Thi Phuong Linh, Truong Chi Quang, and Etienne Espagne.

Salt intrusion and deep depression become two main threats to the region of four million square kilometers. Almost the coastline now suffers broad depression with an average rate of 50m/year. Meanwhile, the increasing presence of hydropower plants in the mainstream and massive sand mining make river erosion and salt intrusion serious.

In addition, the process of extracting groundwater at an excessive rate has threatened a decline or exhaustion of the supply.

To mitigate the impact of climate change in the Mekong Delta, Dr. Truong Tri Quang made some recommendations namely building regional planning with national and joint projects to boost economic benefits; reaching consensus on sustainable development; monitoring water infrastructure facilities; minimizing sand mining and groundwater extraction while reestablishing drainage basin; changing cultivation methods; and launching adaptation options.

 Representatives of MONRE and AFD in a ceremony launching “Climate Change in Vietnam – Impacts and Adaptation” report at COP26, 2021. Photo: MONRE.   


Inaugurated in 2018 following the State visit by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong to France, GEMMES Viet Nam is an ambitious scientific collaboration between the Department of Climate Change, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), AFD and France’s Research Institute for Development (IRD), with the participation of a team of more than 60 researchers from the two countries and financed by AFD.

It aims to support Viet Nam in the implementation of the Paris Agreement and presents itself as a tool for policymakers to build a long-term development trajectory that is resilient to impacts of climate change. Through the creation of a robust network of Franco-Vietnamese scientists, GEMMES also helps Viet Nam develop its capacity in the field of climate change research.

GEMMES aims to measure the socio-economic impacts of climate change and recommend adaptation solutions for the Southeast Asian nation.

AFD, whose mission is devoted to climate adaptation, is supporting Vietnam in implementing its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and commitments made at COP26. Since its operations in the country in 1994, AFD has financed over 100 projects worth more than EUR2.5 billion (US$2.7 billion).