Developing clean energy projects while reducing fossil fuel-based plants that pollute the environment is an undeniable imperative around the world, including Vietnam. However, the issue of securing employment for affected workers and communities so that the transition is peaceful and does not cause social unrest has not been properly considered.
The concept of a socially just energy transition is not new in Europe or North America but remains relatively unknown in Asia. Broadly speaking, the process involves not only environmental aspects but also socio-economic changes, which are all needed to push for the global energy transformation to reach the goals agreed upon in the Paris Agreement reached in 2015 as part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Realizing these problems, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Vietnam (FES Vietnam), Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA) and the Green Innovation and Development Centre (GreenID) jointly organized an international workshop titled Fostering Cooperation to Ensure a Just Energy Transition on September 18th, 2018, to discuss issues related to energy transition, with a focus on the political and social implications of this process.
More specifically, FES Vietnam and GreenID are jointly undertaking a study on how to achieve a just transition in the energy sector in Vietnam. To adapt the concept of a socially just transition to the Vietnamese context and to build capacity of national researchers, two workshops were conducted ahead of the September meetings, with the support of international experts from the Sierra Club and University of California, Berkeley. These workshops provided the basis for a report on the social, environmental and economic impacts of an alternative, green energy scenario for Vietnam. The first draft of the joint study was presented at the international workshop, and included issues which have not yet been addressed in Vietnam such as the assessments about quantity and quality of employment during the transition.
Bringing together a variety of regional and international experts on the topic of just transition, ranging from academia to trade unions and policy makers, the workshop provided a platform for an in-depth exchange on the status quo of just transition efforts in Asia and beyond, as well as an opportunity to share the results of a joint study by FES and Germany-based Christian development and relief agency Bread for the World on a just transition in the Global South.
“Our goal is to conceptualize a just transition in such a more comprehensive way to shape a more sustainable and humane version of tomorrow’s economy,” said Yvonne Blos, Director of FES Vietnam Climate and Energy Project. “Uniting these different approaches to build alliances for a just transition in Asia and beyond was one of the key issues discussed during the conference.”
The workshop provided an opportunity for Vietnamese policy makers, the media and the public to meet and talk with international experts, including those from Germany, the United States, China, India, Indonesia and Thailand, to gain insights into what is going on internationally and regionally. Around 200 participants, including representatives from Vietnamese government agencies, research institutions, trade unions, economic and social organizations, media outlets, and international organizations came together to discuss how to achieve a just energy transition in Vietnam.
Under the revised Power Development Plan VII approved by the Vietnam government on March 18, 2016, the total capacity of the planned coal-fired power plants to be built by 2030 accounts to 55,300 MW, bringing the total share of all coal plants up to 42.6 per cent of the electric power mix. GreenID’s report titled Analysis of Future Generation Capacity Scenarios for Vietnam has indicated that by considering external costs and placing a higher priority on energy efficiency, Vietnam would be able to reduce the share of coal-fired power in the total energy mix to 24.4 per cent while increasing renewable energy and gas-based power to about 30 per cent and 22.8 per cent, respectively.
Nguyen Hoang Ngan is the communication officer of the FES Climate and Energy project with the hub in Hanoi. For more information on the work by FES in Vietnam visit the country office website and follow their daily updates on the Facebook fan page.
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