Net zero targets
CAT rates Viet Nam’s net zero target as "Average”.
Viet Nam announced its target to achieve net zero by 2050 target during the COP26 World Leaders' Summit in 2021. In July 2022, Viet Nam included its net-zero target in Prime Minister’s Decision No.896/QD-TTg approving the National Climate Change Strategy, which aims at guiding Viet Nam’s climate action through 2050. While Prime Minister's decisions are legal documents, Viet Nam has yet to formalise the target in the legislation. Viet Nam's net zero target relies on international financial support.
Viet Nam has signed the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) with an international coalition of donors, which specifically cites the aim of assisting Viet Nam in its pursuit of achieving its net zero target by 2050 with a focus on transition away from coal, not all fossil fuels (European Commission, 2022a).
In the National Climate Change Strategy, the government sets a cap on total emissions of 185 MtCO2e in 2050. The emissions cap is divided between the energy (101 MtCO2e), industry (20 MtCO2e), agriculture (56 MtCO2e), and waste (8 MtCO2e) sectors. The strategy aims at compensating for the remaining emissions with removals from the land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector and an increase in carbon sequestration in the agriculture sector.
The National Climate Change Strategy calls for a gradual transition from coal-fired electricity to cleaner energy sources, reducing the share of fossil fuel energy sources, not developing new coal-fired power projects after 2030, while gradually reducing coal power capacity after 2035.
Improving energy efficiency is also emphasised in this strategy by increasing the share of energy efficient equipment in use within the industrial, residential and agricultural sectors, including the reduction of fuel use from the electrification of agricultural machinery in the post-harvest agricultural production chain.
In its most recent power sector development plan (PDP8), Viet Nam has highlighted the importance of transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. However, the PDP8 is centred around a growing dependence on fossil gas and LNG is put forward as a “transition fuel” towards net zero. The rising reliance on fossil gas in the planned power sector expansion increases the country's risk of stranded assets. The Master Plan for National Energy, published a few weeks after the PDP8, includes targets for carbon capture and storage.
CAT analysis of net zero target
Ten key elements
- Target year – Viet Nam aims to reach net zero by 2050.
- Emissions coverage – Viet Nam’s net zero target covers the three main GHG emissions, i.e. CO2 (72% of total GHG emissions in 2021), CH4 (21%), N2O (5%) as these are the relevant gases in Viet Nam. Emissions of F-gases are negligible. HFCs account for <1% (Gütschow et al., 2022a; Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, 2020).
- International aviation and shipping – Viet Nam does not provide information on international aviation and shipping in its targets.
- Reductions or removals outside of own borders – Viet Nam does not provide information on its intention to use international offset credits to meet its net zero target by 2050.
- Legal status – The 2050 National Climate Change Strategy has been formalised through a decision issued by the Prime Minister (a legal instrument), but is not yet incorporated into legislation (Viet Nam Government, 2022d). The net zero target has become a core element of multiple subsequent policy documents, including the PDP8 and the 2022 NDC (Viet Nam Government, 2022a). Viet Nam has not yet submitted a long term low greenhouse gas emissions development strategy (LT-LEDS) to the UNFCCC.
- Separate reduction & removal targets – In its National Climate Change Strategy, Viet Nam aims to reduce emissions from the land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector by 90% in 2050 relative to the BAU level. In addition, Viet Nam intends to increase carbon sequestration by 30% relative to the BAU level. The combination of actions in the LULUCF and carbon sequestration sectors are expected to provide a 185 MtCO2e sink.
In the National Climate Change Strategy, Viet Nam sets a target to maintain forest coverage at 43% along with ensuring area of national forest, improve forest quality and sustainable forest management (Viet Nam Government, 2022).
- Review process – In the National Climate Change Strategy, there are provisions for reviewing and updating national strategies, as well as planning for a 5-year and 10-year period. The review process seeks to balance socio-economic development plans with Viet Nam’s net zero goals, and the Ministry of Planning and Investment will oversee this.
- Carbon dioxide removal – Viet Nam has a target to increase its carbon sequestration capacity by 30% compared to its BAU, which is expected to realise a 185 MtCO2e of carbon sink capacity in 2050 when combined with actions in the LULUCF sector. However, transparent assumptions for other removals and storage, in particular technological solutions, are still lacking.
- Comprehensive planning – In its National Climate Change Strategy, Viet Nam provides detailed sectoral emissions reductions targets for energy, industrial process, agriculture and waste, as well as the LULUCF sector along with sector specific key action areas. This strategy also provides an interim target in 2030 of 36% reduction from BAU level of emissions (excluding LULUCF) in 2030 (977 MtCO2e) and emissions peaking by 2035. The strategy states that Viet Nam will not develop new coal-fired power plants after 2030, and it will gradually reduce its coal fleet after 2035. However, according to the PDP8, the power sector will still depend extensively on fossil fuels until at least 2030, and substantial new gas infrastructure are being developed. The prospects for phasing out the fossil fuel fleet are uncertain and depend on vague plans to convert existing plants to alternative fuels (Viet Nam Government, 2023a). The Master Plan on National Energy includes the target to reach a CO2 capture capacity of 1 MtCO2 by 2040, and 3 to 6 MtCO2 by 2050 (Viet Nam Government, 2023b).
- Clarity on fairness of target – Viet Nam provides no information on its intention to explain the target’s fairness.
The Climate Action Tracker has defined the following good practice for all ten key elements of net zero targets. Countries can refer to this good practice to design or enhance their net zero targets.