On November 28, the European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, visited and delivered a talk on “Environment and Climate Change” at Fulbright University Vietnam’s campus in Ho Chi Minh City. The Commissioner shared some key points of the European Green Deal, the EU’s potential partnerships with different countries including Vietnam in the fight for climate change and the global energy crisis as well as EU’s action plan.
The talk took place on the sidelines of Mr. Virginijus Sinkevičius’ official visit to Vietnam to attend the opening of the Green Economy Forum & Exhibition – GEFE 2022 on November 27 and 28. During his visit, the Commissioner met with Vietnamese high-ranking officials to discuss various issues related to environment and fisheries.
The European Green Deal is a set of policy initiatives by the European Commission with the overarching aim of making the European Union (EU) climate neutral in 2050. An impact assessed plan will also be presented to increase the EU’s greenhouse gas emission reductions target for 2030 to at least 50%, with the aim to reduce it to 55% below 1990 levels. The plan is to review each existing law on its climate merits, and introduce new legislations on circular economy, building renovation, biodiversity, farming and innovation.
According to Mr. Virginijus Sinkevičius, the implementation of the European Green Deal is not an easy task, but it is very clear that the war in Ukraine is really pushing Europe to implement it as soon as possible. Member states are increasingly aware of the dangers in their dependency on fossil fuels, mainly purchased from Russia. They realize it’s about time to change the global mindset in energy transition to break out of dependency on fossil fuels.
“It’s a deal that is designed to build a system that’s more sustainable, more resilient, better equipped for long term challenges like climate change or biodiversity loss, and better able to withstand short term shocks like Covid-19 or the war in Ukraine. Of course, it is a very ambitious plan that aims for a fundamental transformation,” he said.
Global warming is affecting all countries in the world, especially the poorest ones. It is prompted by the current economic model where countries use and dispose of a massive quantity of virgin materials. The impacts of global warming are visible everywhere around the world, such as raging forest fires, devastating floods, heat waves and biodiversity loss. Mr. Sinkevičius cited statistics showing an enormous drop in global populations of mammals, birds, and fish since the year 1970; in fact, the number of species declined by 68%, that is more than two thirds in just 50 years. He pointed out the European Green Deal’s biggest plan is to cut emissions by minimizing the use of virgin materials and focusing on the “green transition” and digital transition to revitalize their economies and move towards a regenerative approach, giving back to nature more than taking.
With Vietnam being amongst the top 20 biodiversity countries in the world, the Vietnamese government has all the reasons to put environment protection as a priority, Mr. Sinkevičius emphasized. He also expressed hope about the partnership between EU and Vietnam on environment and climate change since Vietnam is a key partner of the EU. He shared his hope that Vietnam and EU could forge closer partnerships in forest protection and development; protection of biodiversity of forests, seas and oceans, including the fight against plastic pollution.