Speech by UNDP Resident Representative a.i., Ms. Louise Chamberlain at the CC update with members of the NA

Nov 19, 2012

Speaker:  UNDP Resident Representative a.i., Ms. Louise Chamberlain     
Date:       19 November 2012
Event:      CC update with members of the NA
Location: Grand Plaza, 117 Tran Duy Hung Str., Ha Noi

Your Excellency, Mdm Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, Vice Chairwoman of the National Assembly
Your Excellency, Mr. Phan Xuân Dũng, Chairman of the National Assembly Committee of Science, Technology and Environment
Your Excellency, Mr. Nguyễn Minh Quang, Minister of Natural Resources & Environment
Honourable Deputies of the National Assembly,
Distinguished representatives,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank the Committee of Science, Technology and Environment of the National Assembly and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment for inviting me to this update meeting of members of the National Assembly on climate change responses in Viet Nam. It is a great honour for me to address you on this occasion.

I would like to congratulate the Government for taking a proactive approach to climate change, through strategies, programmes and action plans. UNDP had the privilege to contribute to these policies and to the formulation of climate change and sea-level-rise scenarios about which you will be hearing today.

Please, allow me to highlight three key implications of global climate change action for Viet Nam.

First on Viet Nam’s active participation in international climate change negotiations:

The Conference of Parties (COP) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is formulating a new legal agreement that will apply to both developed and developing country Parties, for adoption in 2015. This is extremely important for the world because it must define greenhouse gas emissions reduction actions by both developed countries and developing countries . However, little progress has been made, especially on developed country commitments to reduce emissions and provide finance for climate change actions, whilst recent scientific findings show that the urgency to act is greater than ever.

Viet Nam is not yet legally obliged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because its emissions were historically low. Emissions per capita were just 1.46 metric ton CO2Equivalent in 2008, which is much lower than in developed countries and most middle-income countries. But Viet Nam’s emissions are rising fast and the UNFCCC’s new legal agreement may have significant implications for Viet Nam.

Viet Nam is widely commended for setting greenhouse gas emissions targets in the National Green Growth Strategy, with domestic means and international support. Viet Nam should also take an active part in the negotiations at COP 18 at the end of this year in Doha, Qatar, to negotiate global paths towards emissions reduction that also support economic and social development. Developing countries at all income levels, including Viet Nam, must secure access to international technology and finance.

My second point is on the need for strong domestic coordination mechanisms in support of accessing international climate finance:

To optimise access to climate finance, Viet Nam should contribute to the operational guidelines of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) that was established under the UNFCCC, by working closely with Asian members of the Green Climate Fund Board. This requires a strong national focal point with sufficient and qualified human resources for finance and accounting.

This also relates to how Viet Nam organises its climate finance at the national level. The climate financing landscape is extremely complex, internationally and domestically, so strong coordination is critical, especially between the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Ministry of Planning and Investment, and the Ministry of Finance.

Viet Nam needs to use international climate finance strategically, and it now adopted the Strategy on Climate Change and the Green Growth Strategy which demonstrate national priorities. UNDP believes that international climate finance should be used mainly for actions that require international expertise and technology, for example complex designs and high tech investments, but that is not yet the case .

My third point is on setting incentives for private sector investment to reduce emissions within a policy to promote accelerated economic growth:

Viet Nam should manage public finance to stimulate private sector investment. The State budget alone will not be enough while the national and international private sector holds vast amounts of investment potential and modern technology. But the private sector requires cohesive, transparent, and above all a predictable policy and a level playing field in order to generate green investments.

It is critical that indirect subsidies on the use of fossil fuels are phased out through further reform of the electricity sector and the pricing of petroleum products. Furthermore, increasing taxes on fossil fuels should be considered, or enhancing the environmental tax law. The aim of such so-called green policies is to shift the market incentives to encourage more investment in renewable technology, which is now not yet feasible because the energy price in Viet Nam is still very low. The phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies  can be done in a revenue neutral way – that is, without affecting the earnings of both low-income households and businesses negatively – by simultaneously reducing taxes on income, employment, and profits.

Honourable Deputies,

UNDP has been providing support to the Vietnamese delegation on climate change negotiations, and we are providing ongoing support to the analysis of climate finance and fossil fuel-related fiscal policies. We are committed to continue supporting the Government, the National Assembly, and other stakeholders in collaboration with other Development Partners in the implementation and monitoring of policies in the coming years, and to helping Viet Nam accelerate its path on a green, sustainable, and prosperous growth track.

I wish you fruitful discussions and a productive meeting. Once again, I thank you for the opportunity to address you this evening.

Thank you very much.