Skip to content

Ambition gap

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

1.5°C compatible pathways

Viet Nam updated its NDC in September 2020. The unconditional target aims for 9% emissions reduction below a business-as-usual (BAU) trajectory by 2030 including LULUCF. Viet Nam also has a conditional target of 27% below BAU by 2030 (including LULUCF), equivalent to 748 MtCO₂e/yr excluding LULUCF. The country aims to update its NDC ahead of COP27.

While the new targets are stronger than the original target, they are not 1.5°C compatible, and can easily be met under current policies.16 Viet Nam could more than double its current emissions by 2030 and still meet its NDC. The target therefore does not present a true progression in scaling up climate action, as it does not require any additional effort, and in fact increases emissions by 100-141% from 2015 levels.

Our analysis indicates that a target in line with the Paris Agreement 1.5°C limit would require a 31-48% decrease below 2015 levels excluding LULUCF. Emissions would need to peak immediately and decrease thereafter.

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.

Long term pathway

At COP26, Viet Nam committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, conditional on international support, and is in the process of developing its long-term strategy.9 A 1.5°C compatible pathway requires Viet Nam to reduce its GHG emissions by 77% from 2015 levels by 2050 or from 449 MtCO₂e in 2019 to 75 MtCO₂e in 2050 excluding LULUCF. Viet Nam could reach net zero GHG emissions if LULUCF is included, and the carbon sink is expanded. Total GHG emissions need to peak immediately.

Viet Nam could reach 77-97% CO₂ emissions reduction below 2015 levels by 2050 when excluding LULUCF.28 Viet Nam will then need to balance its remaining GHG emissions by deploying carbon dioxide approaches such as land sinks or bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

The energy sector requires the largest share of emissions reductions, as this sector is responsible for most emissions. The energy sector can reach net zero or be a carbon sink by around 2040 using CDR.

Our analysis shows that industrial processes emissions (mainly from cement production) could reach net zero GHGs by 2040, as modelled in the High CDR reliance scenario, with the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS). Remaining unabated emissions from industrial processes in other pathways would need to be compensated with CDR.

Emissions from waste could reach very low levels to 2 MtCO₂e by 2050. Emissions from agriculture such as rice cultivation, digestive processes in animals and livestock manure could also decline to lower levels, but remain present in all scenarios. Ambitious emissions mitigation policies will be required in these sectors, in addition to CDR in other sectors, to offset the remaining emissions and ensure net zero GHGs can be reached. The reliance on CDR can be lowered by utilising Viet Nam’s huge renewable energy potential to reduce emissions in the energy sector, in addition to electrifying industry and transport sectors.

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. (2019).

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

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

24 IEA. Viet Nam. International Energy Agency. (2021).

25 Energy Voice. Enterprize eyes green hydrogen’s potential to ‘supercharge’ Vietnam. Energy Voice. (2021).

26 Phi Nhat. Support policies for EVs mapped out to encourage Vietnamese private sector’s participation. Hanoi Times. (2021).

27 VietnamNet. Vietnam expects new wave of electric vehicles in 2022. VietnamNet. (2022).

28 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.

29 October 2021 draft Power Development Plan 8.


Viet Namʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

Displayed values
Reference year
Reference year
1.5°C emissions level
NDC (conditional)
NDC (unconditional)
Ambition gap
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Current policy projections
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Historical emissions
2030 emissions levels
Current policy projections
NDC (conditional)
1.5°C emissions level
Ref. year 2015

Energy system transformation

A Paris Agreement compatible pathway requires a shift from fossil fuels to renewables. Our analysis suggests that renewable energy in Viet Nam’s primary energy supply could potentially increase from 28% in 2017, to 66% in 2030 and 91% in 2050 in a low energy demand scenario (meaning energy efficiency measures would also need to be implemented as a part of the energy transition).

In this same scenario, fossil fuels decrease from 72% in 2017 to 34% in 2030 and 9% in 2050. The remaining emissions in 2050 will need to be balanced by the use of carbon removal technologies (CDR) such as Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS).

Total final energy consumption is largely (55%) from the industry sector, although energy consumption in this sector has decreased in recent years.17 Viet Nam could further reduce industry energy consumption through energy efficiency improvements. Decarbonisation on the industry sector is possible through electrifying heat production, mainstreaming energy efficient processes, or green hydrogen use.

Transport accounts for 21% of final energy consumption.17 The transport sector can decarbonise by electrifying the transport sector, transitioning from combustion engines to electric cars and motorcycles, scaling electric public transport, and switching transport modes to reduce energy demand.


Viet Namʼs primary energy mix

petajoule per year

SSP1 Low CDR reliance
20192030204020504 0006 000
SSP1 High CDR reliance
20192030204020504 0006 000
Low Energy Demand
20192030204020504 0006 000
High Energy Demand - Low CDR reliance
20192030204020504 0006 000
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS
  • Unabated fossil
  • Renewables incl. Biomass
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS

Viet Namʼs total CO₂ emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂/yr

  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Historical emissions

1.5°C compatible emissions benchmarks

Key emissions benchmarks of Paris compatible Pathways for Viet Nam. The 1.5°C compatible range is based on the Paris Agreement compatible pathways from the IPCC SR1.5 filtered with sustainability criteria. The median (50th percentile) to 5th percentile and middle of the range are provided here. Relative reductions are provided based on the reference year.

Reference year
Reference year
Year of net zero GHG
incl. BECCS excl. LULUCF and novel CDR
Total GHG
Megatonnes CO₂ equivalent per year
171 to 227
100 to 125
69 to 88
Relative to reference year in %
−48 to −31%
−70 to −62%
−79 to −73%
Total CO₂
111 to 150
28 to 75
7 to 49
Relative to reference year in %
−47 to −29%
−87 to −64%
−97 to −77%