03 Dec 2023, 14:55

Vietnam lays out $15.5 billion energy transition plan

HANOI, Dec 3, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Vietnam has laid out a $15.5 billion dollar

blueprint to transition away from coal power, but environmentalists warned
Sunday the plan fell far short of what was needed.

The communist nation has committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by
2050, supported by the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) programme,
under which wealthier nations would help developing countries switch to clean
energy faster.

On Friday Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh announced the multi-
billion dollar Resource Mobilisation Plan (RMP) on the sidelines of the COP28
climate talks in Dubai.

"We commit to an open mechanism, good infrastructure, and smart management,"
he told delegates.

However, environmentalists told AFP that Vietnam's intention to use coal-
fired plants until the end of their life operations, as well as shrinking
civil society space, prompted concerns.

Vietnam's plan contained some "worrying" elements, chiefly the intention to
use coal-fired plants "flexibly" rather than closing them early, said Leo
Roberts, of environmental strategists EG3.

"What that means in practice is unclear, and is a slippery slope to using
them extensively."

He added it sent a clear message the country was not transitioning as fast or
at the scale it should, "and that discourages investment in renewables".

Speaking on the phone from the sidelines of COP28, Roberts told AFP that
successful energy transitions required input from all sections of society.

"The lack of a clear, inclusive consultation process has limited the scale of
ambition of the RMP," said Roberts.

Five environmentalists have been jailed for tax evasion in Vietnam since last
year, with an independent UN expert accusing Hanoi last month of targetting
rights defenders.

"The crackdown on civil society doesn't just undermine the content of the
RMP, but also how easy it will be to actually deliver it," said Roberts.

Andri Prasetiyo, a researcher at the Senik Centre Asia in Indonesia, agreed
with Roberts' concerns.

"The resource mobilisation plan is not realistic, it's not really progressive
enough," he told AFP.

"The country is going to be giving a mixed signal towards renewable energy,
which is definitely going to be dangerous."

After China and India, Vietnam has the world's third-largest pipeline of new
coal power projects, remaining reliant on fossil fuel to power its fast-
growing economy.