Insights about growing momentum and the sea change in approaches to energy usage were discussed during one of the event’s panel discussions on Sustainable Energy and Climate Change Solutions.
A key area of concern is the amount of global CO2 emissions that cities account for. With 70% of the global population forecasted to be living in cities by 2050, and with cities contributing to 70% of the global CO2 emissions, there is a strong need to invest in technologies and approaches to ensure greater sustainability.
A recent International Energy Agency (IEA) report on the Empowering Cities for a Net Zero Future in 2021 indicated that by focusing on cities, nearly 90% of emissions can be reduced by 2050.
Dr Seng Kiat Kok, facilitator and Senior Program Manager of Human Resource Management and Entrepreneurship at RMIT University, suggested that such “changes have further ramifications for their populations, with health and wellbeing improving as a product of a cleaner environment”.
“Similarly, such changes have an impact on socio-economic conditions through not only more efficient and renewable energy sources but through job and expertise creation in these emerging energy industries,” he said.
Dr Kok said that with a drive towards a net-zero emissions targeted by 2050, there is growing emphasis on infrastructure development, a rethink of organisational culture and digital transformation in energy management in the country.
“Vietnam has already been one of the most efficient power markets in the region, its low-cost development places it ahead of other neighbouring countries, and yet there are opportunities to enhance this even further,” he said.
A panelist and CEO of Vu Phong Energy Group Mr Pham Nam Phong highlighted the value and focus on digitalisation, where technology can help enhance energy efficiency, availability and reduce downtime.
Mr Phong took his company’s digital transformation and technologies as an example.
“Vu Phong was able to achieve 99.9% of energy availability in its solar energy power plant in 2020, not only maximising energy usage but also reducing waste,” he said.
“Indeed, with these changes and advancements, there are both environmental benefits and stronger economic opportunities.
“New providers and industries supporting the technological advancements and change towards greener sources of energy look forward to benefiting from a new and growing marketplace.”
Mr Phong suggested that recycling opportunities, as a product of waste from modern technologies, provides avenues for a circular economy, effectively enhancing the cycle of sustainability.
Dr Kok noted that as businesses and consumers in the region are becoming more sustainability aware, Vietnam can begin its current industrial revolution with stronger green credentials in mind.
“Kantar’s (2021) Asia Sustainability Foundational Study indicates that 53% of consumers have stopped buying products/services that have a negative impact on the environment and society,” Dr Kok said.
“As such, not only are large businesses and industries looking at alternative eco-friendly options for energy sourcing, customer appetite for cleaner and more sustainable considerations is expanding.
“Kantar’s (2020) Worldpanel review highlighted that sustainability is among the top 5 key concerns of the Vietnamese people.”
What was strongly evident from the panellists was the role that individuals play in driving the climate change agenda.
Dr Kok introduced the initiatives from the UNDP’s Youth4Climate and GreenID as examples of organisations who are seeking to advocate and foster the voice of younger generations.
“Youth4Climate have established a Youth Learning Hub to promote greater awareness and to empower and support ‘youth champions’ in driving sustainable energy in Vietnam,” he shared.
“Partnering with GreenID, both organisations are also keen to enhance digital tools and digital access in facilitating the climate change response, ultimately building youth capacity towards the future focused on sustainable and renewable energy sources.”
Climate Change and Circular Economy Officer for UNDP Vietnam Ms Morgane Rivoal commented that a key aspect of the Youth4Climate initiative in Vietnam is to work with key organisations in the country and “expand the youth understanding of the challenges associated with climate change and to build capacity in undertaking and leading climate action”.
Executive Director of GreenID Ms Nguy Thi Khanh stressed that while it needs some time for policies to change to address some of these issues around sustainable energy sources towards pushing firms to incorporate a net zero focus, “we as energy users also have the power to make these changes”.
“We have to find a way for both energy users and firms to desire and see the benefits of using clean energy,” Ms Khanh said and suggested that changes must emerge from both suppliers and end users of energy to achieve such goals.
Dr Kok emphasised on the great opportunities to develop grassroots awareness as well as environmental champions of the future, supporting and positioning Vietnam as a highly viable country for ethical and responsible business practices.
“Alongside the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there is strong alignment to build and add to current energy capacity developments and critical mass, while still keeping an eye towards sustainability,” he said.
“Ultimately, these initiatives and successes will position Vietnam as both an ethical and responsible destination for business in the future.”