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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fighting global warming

The PM has approved a $135m plan to tackle global warming over the next seven years.

The Red River in Ha Noi during the dry season. A US$135 million programme to deal with climate change has been approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. — VNA/VNS Photo Truong Vi

HA NOI — Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved a seven-year VND2.3 trillion (US$135 million) national programme to deal with climate change.

The programme, to begin next year, will focus on the rate of change and introduction of an action plan to deal with the short and long-term consequences of climate change.

The programme’s major tasks will include:

Assessment of the impact of climate change on Viet Nam;

Mapping measures to cope with its consequences;

Building scientific and technological programmes for climate change;

Raising public awareness about climate change; and Increasing international co-operation to deal with the consequences of climate change and devising actions plans for each locality and sector.

Viet Nam was among the countries that would be hardest hit by the global warming and rising sea levels, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan told a Vietnam News Agency reporter at the 14th session of the Climate Change Convention in Pozna, Poland on Thursday.

"Implementing this programme will require a huge use of resources – both the workforce and finance," he said.

"It must be considered a major challenge to Viet Nam in the context of the global financial crisis and its impact on the economy."

Viet Nam would mobilise all its resources to implement the programme, including the negotiation of international financial assistance in the spirit of the Kyoto Protocol and the UN’s framework climate-change convention.

"Viet Nam is a reliable destination for foreign investors and has received many pledges from the international community in development investment," the deputy prime minister said.

"We have also received pledges to support the programme from other governments and hope to receive more."

The Government would ask the National Assembly to approve an appropriate budget for the programme.

The World Bank lists Bangladesh, the Bahamas, Egypt, Surinam and Viet Nam as the five countries likely to be most adversely affected by rising seas.

Viet Nam will lose 70-80 per cent of the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta; 12-15 million tonnes of rice a year with 20 million people made homeless by 2050, if the sea rises 1m.

Oxfam warning

Likely yearly damage is estimated at $17 billion or 20 per cent of Gross Domestic Product.

The Cuu Long would disappear if the sea rises 5m.

Britain’s Oxfam warns that millions of Vietnamese could slide into poverty unless action is jointly taken by relevant ministries and agencies to mitigate environment-related disasters.

About 70 per cent of Viet Nam’s population live in disaster-prone zones.

The intensity and frequency of disasters have led to severe flooding, intense cold spells and prolonged drought, it says.

Oxfam bases its forecasts on a report by two of its researchers in disaster-prone Ben Tre Province, in the south, and Quang Tri, the centre.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Meteorology, Hydrography and Environment Institute director Dr Tran Thuc said Viet Nam’s average temperature was forecast to increase to 30 degree Celsius and the sea level may rise 1m by 2100.

Action taken

Climate change made disasters, particularly storms, floods and drought, more severe and thus their impact on life, production and development much worse, he said.

Ten storms have hit Viet Nam so far this year.

Viet Nam signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change after it was introduced at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, in 1992, and approved in 1994.

Viet Nam had continued to attend all important international conferences and negotiations to ensure the convention’s targets were met, said Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan.

Viet Nam delegation of high ranking officials to the 14th session of the Climate Change Convention in Pozna, proved the country’s role at international gatherings and its worries about climate change, he said.

"We have joined in the activities of the G-77 and China - a diverse group with differing interests in climate change issues - individual developing countries that participate in the debates - the East Asia Forum and the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN)," the deputy prime minister said.

"And we have actively discussed and suggested ways to implement the convention’s articles at these gatherings."—VNS

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