On January 5, Fulbright University Vietnam played host to a corporate briefing on “COP27 Opportunities and Challenges”, organized in collaboration with Climateworks Centre, a not-for-profit founded by Monash University and the Myer Foundation to bridge the gap between research and climate action. The event gathered experts from public institutions, NGOs, the finance and private sectors, and academia to discuss the implications of international commitments on climate mitigation in Vietnam, and the opportunities for businesses operating in the country in light of the new outcomes achieved at COP27.
Held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, last November, the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 was set against a year plagued with energy and food price shocks, macroeconomic slowdown, and extreme weather events. Developing nations, Vietnam included, were hit hardest by some of these issues. Nonetheless, COP27 has reached significant decisions that will guide and advance efforts of climate actions across the globe – namely the Loss and Damage Fund, the Food and Agriculture for Sustainable Transformation initiative, and new pledges made to the Adaptation Fund, to name a few.
Not only did the key outcomes from COP27 demonstrated continued progress in the global climate movement, they also presented new opportunities that Vietnam, an emergent global player with proven track records in economic growth in recent decades, can grasp and take advantage of in the future’s green economy.
Vietnam and climate change from the public sector’s perspective
The corporate briefing on “COP27 Opportunities and Challenges” at Fulbright was divided into three sessions. The first session was led by Mr. Nguyễn Thành Công, a representative from Vietnam’s Department of Climate Change, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. It focused on the policy planning and implementation that the country has made over the last year to achieve the key commitments to net-zero emissions by 2050 that Mr. Phạm Minh Chính, Prime Minister of Vietnam, had announced at COP26 in Glasgow.
The second session invited Ms. Sarah Hooper, Australian Consul-General in Ho Chi Minh City, and Ms. Emily Hamblin, UK Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, to share with the audience on their countries’ experience in managing climate change.
“Australia has shifted from past climate practice towards a more ambitious plan that puts more emphasis on renewable energy,” said Ms. Hooper. “It requires greater determination and collaboration between countries and sectors, which also means the strengthening of economic opportunities and partnerships between Australia and Vietnam, of which today’s event between Fulbright University Vietnam and the Climateworks Centre of Monash University is a prime example.”
“The damages of climate change can only be limited once we can deliver outputs of the commitments made at COP26 and COP27,” said Ms. Hamblin. “Encouraging ambitious and credible commitments from the government, catalyzing a whole society approach, and leveraging partnerships from the private sector and channels for the required investments, are good practices from the UK that Vietnam can adapt.”
Insights from within Vietnam
The final session of the briefing on “COP27 Opportunities and Challenges” at Fulbright provided insights on how businesses operating in Vietnam can adopt, and adapt to, new policies and cutting-edge green technologies, thus aligning themselves with the country’s climate change commitments on the global stage.
Dr. Le Viet Phu, Environmental Policy Lecturer at the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management, Fulbright University Vietnam, said: “Local businesses and the energy sector in Vietnam have been relying on thermal power with coal and liquefied natural gas. Given the fact that renewable energy such as solar power still bears much higher cost in production, it will require political support from all levels in the government to reform electricity pricing and the energy market. One example is the carbon tax which countries such as Singapore, Denmark, Finland, Germany, and Norway, have implemented.”
The corporate briefing on “COP27 Opportunities and Challenges” concluded with a 30-minute panel discussion followed by Q&A from the audience. The lively debate among panelists was moderated by Dr. John Vong, Sustainable Finance Lead of Climateworks Centre, with valuable insights offered by C-suite executives from Vinamilk, Vietnam’s largest dairy company, and Copper Mountain Energy, a Vietnam-based firm specializing in investing and developing renewable energy projects.
“Finance, energy and business are collaborating in climate action towards limiting warming to 1.5°C. Sustainability reporting is keeping pace with net zero commitments,” Dr. John Wong said. “In Australia, net zero targets are being adopted across corporations and have nearly doubled between 2021 and 2022. Emissions along the supply chain are reported, and that means countries who are part of the global supply chain like Vietnam may step up decarbonisation efforts to strengthen their competitiveness.”
Mr. Nguyễn Quốc Khánh, Director of Development and Research at Vinamilk, looked at COP27 as both challenges and opportunities for businesses. On the one hand, it will require businesses to invest more money in their production chain, but on the other hand, it will give businesses more profits in the long term. “Although Vinamilk has followed the standards for net-zero production and GHG emission reduction set by the International Dairy Federation (IDF) and Diary Sustainable Framework (DSF), from an enterprise perspective, we will need more specific guidelines from the government for net-zero production and other relevant issues,” he said.
Mr. Chung Diệu Tuấn, Board of Director of Copper Mountain Energy, stated: “In the short-term, it looks like investing in renewable energy might cost us more, given the commitments and standards created from COP26 and 27. As we are a renewable energy company, clarifications and educating our investors, clients and partners about the standards, and meaning, of our operation is of utmost importance. Not only do our solutions help reduce energy costs, the long-term benefits of generating sustainable energy solutions toward a low carbon economy are manifold, which of course, require support from the local government and the stakeholders involved.”