No. 9 May 1997 Supplement

Country Study News

The Newsletter of the UNEP Collaborating Centre on Energy and Environment


The World Resources Institute (WRI) has estimated the GHG emissions from Vietnam at approximately 53.4 million tons CO2 in 1991. Vietnam's per capita CO2 emissions are only 0.29 tons/year compared to 4.21 tons/year for the global average. The primary sources of CO2 emissions in Vietnam are from energy consumption and cement production (38%) and from 'land use changes' or deforestation (62%). The most rapid growth of GHG emissions in Vietnam is expected to come from growth in energy consumption, estimated to average about 12 percent per annum. Much of the expected growth in energy consumption is expected to come from fossil fuels.

The primary sink for GHG emissions in Vietnam is its forests. Present forest cover is estimated at 9.3 million hectares. However, Vietnam's forests and soils are being depleted at approximately 100,000 ha/yr. As a result, Vietnam's forest cover declined from 45 percent of total land area in 1950 to the present estimate of 28 percent. The primary reason for this decline is land clearing for agriculture with secondary reasons being the expansion of shifting agriculture and in some areas over­cutting for timber production and the supply of fuelwood for household energy. In fact, over 70 percent of total energy consumption in Vietnam is derived from fuelwood, and other biomass (rice straw), but most is sustainably produced.

Vietnam has a relatively long coastline and two major river deltas. Its coastline lies in the path of the South China sea typhoons. A majority of the population is therefore vulnerable to coastal and delta flooding. This fact has caused the Government of Vietnam to be increasingly concerned about the potential adverse impacts of climate change and sea­level rise.

A few studies relating to climate change have been conducted in the past and a GEF/UNDP project, Asia Least Cost Greenhouse Gas Abatement Strategy (ALGAS), is being executed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The present UNEP/GEF project builds on the significant previous and ongoing work in GHG related projects, especially the work being done in ALGAS on identification of mitigation/abatement options and development of a least­cost strategy for abatement of GHG emissions.

The principal objective of the UNEP/GEF project is to conduct a Climate Change Mitigation Study for Vietnam, particularly focusing on land­use change, and adopting a common methodological framework for calculating the cost of climate change mitigation activities at country level. In the process of completing the study, the project will also lead to the development and/or enhancement of local capacity to undertake this task independently after the conclusion of the project.

Within the overall methodological framework the Vietnamese project team will develop new approaches and methods, particularly in the land­use sector, and use them for estimating the costs of alternative scenarios. The project team will conduct the following tasks with technical assistance from UCCEE/LBNL and other experts as necessary:

Develop an integrated methodology and create a database for the simultaneous assessment of mitigation options in the forest and agriculture sector: The methodology will build on the existing approach used to develop the National Master Plan. With the support of the FAO and other experts, a sector plan has been prepared which explicitly addresses future land­use change scenarios for Vietnam. In this task, the study team will review the sector report, ascertain the data that are needed for a sector mitigation assessment, and develop a comprehensive model for the analysis of options in the land­use change sector. A data base will be created for land­use change mitigation options.

Collect cost and benefits data on forestry sector options: Forests constitute a significant portion of greenhouse gas emissions from Vietnam. An accurate assessment of the potential to reduce emissions in the forest sector, and the costs of the mitigation options, is essential in order to compare the costs with those of options in the energy sector. At the same time, forests provide a multitude of benefits which should be factored in the above analysis. The purpose of this task will be to gather the necessary data on costs and benefits in order to include them in the methodology to be developed as outlined in the above task.

Expand the coverage of electricity efficiency in the national assessments: The current analysis of energy­sector mitigation options does not adequately treat efficiency improvement in electricity supply and use. The purpose of this task will be to collect new data on the costs of reducing transmission and distribution loss and power­generation own loss, and the use of electricity in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. These mitigation options to reduce electricity­sector losses will be explicitly represented using the new data in existing energy sector models.

Analyse scenarios of energy and land­use sector mitigation at the national level: The project team will develop baseline and alternative mitigation scenarios of energy and land­use sector options and analyse their costs, benefits from the forest and agriculture sector, capital investment, and foreign exchange flows. The latter may be compared with national accounts in order to estimate the impact of alternative scenarios. Using the above information the project team will prepare cost curves, which will include both land­use­ and energy­sector options.

Discuss sector­specific strategies for the adoption of mitigation options: Based on the above analysis, the project team will discuss alternative strategies for the adoption of the cost­effective and most appealing mitigation options. The project team shall explore the use of a model for analysing the macro­economic consequences of adopting mitigation strategies. Sector­specific strategies will be discussed at the second national workshop and at the regional conference.

Project Coordinator: Nguyen Trong Hieu, Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology, Vietnam

UNEP Centre Project Manager: Pramod Deo

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Last updated: 30 July 1997
UNEP Centre Systems Analysis Department Risø