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What is Viet Namʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

Last update: December 2021

Ambition gap

Viet Namʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

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Displayed values
Reference year
−100%−50%0%50%100%150%19902010203020502070
Reference year
2015
1.5°C emissions level
−43%
NDC (conditional)
+100%
NDC (unconditional)
+141%
Ambition gap
−143%
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Current policy projections
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Historical emissions

*Net zero emissions excl LULUCF is achieved through deployment of BECCS; other novel CDR is not included in these pathways

Summary

Viet Nam updated its NDC in September 2020, pledging a 9% (unconditional) to 27% (conditional) reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions below business-as-usual (BAU) levels by 2030. Viet Nam’s conditional target is equivalent to around 748 MtCO₂e/yr excluding LULUCF, or a 100% increase above 2015 emission levels – higher than Viet Nam’s current policy pathway.

1 Global Gas Plant Tracker. Global Gas Plant Tracker – Global Energy Monitor. (2021).

2 Climate Action Tracker. Viet Nam. CAT November 2020 Update. (2020).

3 Chapman, A., Urmee, T., Shem, C. & Fuentes, U. Energy transition to renewable energies. Opportunities for Australian cooperation with Vietnam. (2019).

4 IEA. Data & Statistics. International energy Agency, (2020).

5 MNRE. National Communication of Vietnam, The Third. www.bando.com.vn (2019).

6 Viet Nam Government. Viet Nam Third Biennial Updated Report. (2020). Nam_BUR3.pdf

7 Phan Anh. Vietnam pledges to phase out coal power. VnExpress International, (2021).

8 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement. (2021).

9 Phạm Minh Chính. Viet Nam will take stronger measures to reduce greenhouse gas emission: PM . Viet Nam News. (2021).

10 Viet Nam Government. Updated Nationally Determined Contribution. (2020).

11 Viet Nam Government. Approving the Viet Nam’s Renewable Energy Development Strategy up to 2030 with an outlook to 2050.(2015).

12 Vietnam Government. Resolution 55-NQ/TW – On Orientations of the Viet Nam’s National Energy Development Strategy to 2030 and outlook to 2045. (2020).

13 MOIT. Vietnam National Energy Efficiency Program 2019-2030. (2019).

14 Viet Nam Government. Approval of the Revised National Power Development Master Plan for the 2011-2020 Period with the Vision to 2030 (translated by GIZ). (2016).

15 UN Climate Change Conference 2021. Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use – UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). (2021).

16 Climate Action Tracker. Viet Nam can easily achieve its new target, but it does now cover whole economy and is clearer . Climate Action Tracker. (2020).

17 IEA. Vietnam . International Energy Agency https://www.iea.org/countries/viet-nam (2021).

18 MDI. Vietnam Energy Update Report 2020. (2020).

19 Allens. Renewables in Vietnam, Opportunities for Investment. (2020).

20 Vu, T. Vietnam’s extraordinary rooftop solar success deals another blow to the remaining coal pipeline. IEEFA. (2021).

21 Viet Nam Government. Decision on mechanisms to promote the development of solar power projects in Viet Nam. (2020).

22 Baker McKenzie. Vietnam: October 2021 updates to the Draft PDP8. (2021).

23 While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available; thus, we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches.

24 Viet Nam Government. Draft Power Development Plan 8 (third draft, February 2021). (2021).

25 October 2021 draft Power Development Plan 8.

A 1.5°C compatible pathway would see emissions immediately peak and decline to 187-242 MtCO₂e/yr in 2030, 35-50% below 2015 levels.

Under the Paris Agreement, international support, including finance, technology transfer and capacity building will be needed for Viet Nam to close the emissions gap between its fair share and its domestic emissions pathway.

Viet Nam committed to net zero emissions by 2050 at COP26. Our projections show it could reduce nearly 100% of its CO₂ emissions from 2015 levels by 2050, and 73-80% of its total GHG emissions, excluding the land sector (LULUCF).23 On the road to net zero GHG, Viet Nam will need to balance its remaining emissions through LULUCF sinks, expanding its carbon sink.

The largest share of emissions reductions will take place in the energy sector, as this sector is responsible for the majority of emissions.

Viet Nam would need to implement further policies to reduce emissions from the transport sector to reduce dependence on oil and transition to electric vehicles, as well as support a modal switch to zero emissions transport. The industry sector also requires substantial decarbonisation efforts as emissions have increased 129% over the past decade.

In all pathways, emissions in the agriculture and waste sectors will decline but cannot be fully eliminated. Ambitious mitigation policies will be required in these sectors, in addition to carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies in other sectors, to offset the remaining emissions and ensure net zero GHGs can be reached.

Power

Key power sector benchmarks

Renewables shares and year of zero emissions power Including the use of BECCS

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1.5°C aligned targets
Current targets

Our analysis of 1.5°C compatible pathways indicates that the carbon intensity of power will need to be reduced by 88-93% by 2030, compared to 2017 levels, to reach full decarbonisation by 2040 at the latest. This would primarily be driven by a high uptake of renewable energy, rising from 45% in 2017 to 93-95% in 2030.

At COP26, Viet Nam pledged to phase out coal by the 2040s. 1.5°C compatibility would require phasing out coal and gas from the power sector by around 2037 and 2040 respectively. Some pathways show coal phased out as early as 2030 and gas by 2034.

Despite draft plans to cancel some coal fired power generation, Viet Nam has a large coal pipeline (around an additional 20 GW, 2021-2030) in its draft eighth Power Development Plan, that will increase Viet Nam’s reliance on imported coal.24 The COP26 pledge may eliminate these plans.

Viet Nam also plans to ramp up natural gas with a pipeline of around 26 GW additional capacity between 2021-2026, which would lock in a carbon intensive energy system and risk expensive stranded assets.1

Viet Nam has huge renewables potential, and could become a regional leader in solar power (especially when deployed in the agriculture sector) and offshore wind.2 Our analysis suggests that renewable energy could provide 100% of Viet Nam’s electricity by 2040.

Footnotes