Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — When Bạc Liêu Province withdrew last year a thermal power plant proposal submitted to the Prime Minister, the move was seen as a positive sign, showing greater awareness and willingness to promote green growth.
Provincial authorities said they would replace the power plant with a hi-tech agricultural zone for breeding shrimp. They said a clean environment was needed to promote intensive shrimp farming, which is an economic mainstay.
Building a thermal power plant would make it difficult to keep the environment clean, Chairman of Mekong Delta province told the Đất Việt online newspaper.
Dr Trần Du Lịch, member of National Advisory Council on Financial and Monetary Policy, said that several other provinces and cities including Bình Định have rejected projects that could severely pollute the environment.
Since the pollution caused by the Formosa company discharging toxic waste killed a large quantity of fish in the ocean last year, the country’s authorities and leaders have become determined not to swap environment for the growth, Lịch said.
National leaders have currently set environmental protection as first priority in the new model of development, he said, adding “Because the cost for restoring a badly polluted environment is very high, and in some cases, impossible.”
That is the reason why the government plans to develop alternative energy to reduce waste and pollution as well as the impact thermal and hydro power plants have on forests, Lịch said.
A national electricity development plant for the 2011-20 period, for instance, includes a strategic priority for renewable energy, with targets including wind power capacity of 800MW by 2020 and 6,000MW by 2030.
Lịch said, "development of alternative energy sources is one of the strategies the country has to pursue to ensure green growth”.
At the 2017 Spring Forum held by the Asia Business Council on February in HCM City, Deputy Prime Minister Vương Đình Huệ reiterated that the country’s new growth model does not ignore environmental standards and social fairness.
Green action plan
In its national action plan on green growth issued in 2010, the Government also had shown awareness on the issue.
The plan is to promote restructuring and improve economic institutions towards more efficient use of natural resources and improved economic competitiveness, said Dr Phạm Hoàng Mai, director general of the Department of Science, Education, Natural Resources and Environment under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
This will contribute to better climate change adaptation, greenhouse gas reduction and alleviation, thus facilitating sustainable economic development, Mai said.
The plan sees the greenhouse gas emission will be unconditionally reduced by 8 per cent by 2030, he said and added that the figure would increase to 25 per cent with more international support.
Moreover, energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) will reduce by 1 per cent to 1.5 per cent each year by 2020.
The plan also focuses on other strategies to encourage the development of green industries and green agriculture based on environmentally-friendly structures, technologies and equipment, he said.
Many free trade agreements like the one between Việt Nam and EU will force enterprises to change technologies towards green production.
The plan also envisages promoting a greener lifestyle and sustainable consumption, Mai said.
Quảng Ninh’s shift
The northeastern coastal province of Quảng Ninh, for example, has been restructuring its economy towards increasing the green growth with efforts focusing on processing and manufacturing industries, while decreasing the growth of minerals exploitation.
Hoàng Danh Sơn, deputy director of the province’s Department of Planning and Investment said that the provincial authorities plan to develop major green growth programmes and projects.
The province will promote environmental policies and mechanisms; community awareness; energy saving; environmental protection and rehabilitation in mining areas; and other activities.
From last year until 2020, the province will prioritise projects in tourism infrastructure development, sustainable growth; forest protection and development; construction of wastewater and waste treatment systems in the Vân Đồn economic zone; and development of renewable energy, Sơn said.
Lịch said that the green growth goals will be achieved soon because they are integrated into every province and city’s annual development plans as well as the five-year plans required by the government.
“The country’s development should be based on a harmonious relationship between growth of GDP, social equality and environment,” he added.
Effective green growth will help push up economic growth which is needed to help the country escape from the middle income trap, Lịch said.
According to economists, it is very difficult to escape the trap because the country’s economic growth is low. It has to reach to 7 per cent or 8 per cent each year in next 20 years.
To get really effective green growth, the country has to have high labour productivity and high effectiveness in using capital. Both these things are low now, he said.
Natural resources have to be processed to improve the value of Vietnamese products instead of engaging raw materials production, as it is popular now in the country, he added.
Besides, low qualified human resource in the country also is the challenge for this growth, he said.
Although more than 50 per cent of its workforce is trained, many of them only receive basic training so they cannot contribute to increasing the value of products.
The awareness of environmental pollution among the community also remains low, seen through the dropping of litter into canals.
The country also has many traditional handcraft villages polluting the environment, and this problem needs a lot of capital, Lịch said.
In spite of those challenges, the country will soon achieve the green growth goals because the latter are integrated into provinces and cities’ annual development plans and into their 5-year schemes that they have to be realised as requested by the Government. —VNS