US seeks to elevate Vietnam ties, cooperate in clean energy

By Tri Duc
Tue, September 6, 2022 | 7:44 pm GTM+7

The U.S. wants to elevate the comprehensive partnership with Vietnam to a strategic one and cooperate in clean energy for mutual benefit, said U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.

Kerry made the statement at a conversation on promoting clean energy in Vietnam Tuesday in Hanoi, as part of his visit to the Southeast Asian nation.

He highlighted that the Vietnam-U.S. relationship is at its peak. Next July, as the two nations celebrate the 10th anniversary of their comprehensive partnership, President Biden wants to elevate the ties to strategic level, Kerry said.

U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry at a press meeting in Hanoi on September 5, 2022. Photo courtesy of Young People newspaper.

U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry at a press meeting in Hanoi on September 5, 2022. Photo courtesy of Young People newspaper.

He also noted that there are mutual benefits for both Vietnam and the U.S. in green energy cooperation, also a new global economic revolution, as building renewable energy facilities creates jobs and attracts investments.

Clean energy is the solution for Vietnam to adapt to climate change, while harnessing solar and wind power would help countries avoid dependence on foreign resources, like Russia using gas to leverage against Europe, Kerry said.

As Vietnam strives to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and shift from fossils to clean and renewable energy, the envoy expressed delight at Vietnam’s commitments, while recalling his meeting with Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh a day ago.

However, Vietnam’s problem is its lackluster power transmission lines, leading to waste as renewable energy (which is cheaper than coal-fired energy) cannot be fully utilized, Kerry stressed.

He suggested Vietnam repeat its success with aviation and telecommunications in the energy sector. Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air and Bamboo Airways have themselves developed into better airlines thanks to the competition. The telecommunication sector underwent major regulatory updates years ago and the changes eliminated monopoly, introduced competition for the first time, and led to a robust industry with benefits for consumers and the whole economy.

Kerry said now is the time for the Vietnamese government to embrace quick reform and facilitate connection between renewable power facilities and the grid.

Besides, the power development plan VIII (PDP VIII) should prioritize renewable energy, with a portion of about 40% of the total, and that for coal power should be reduced to 20%, he added.

In its latest report on PDP VIII submitted to the government in early August, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said the PDP VIII for the period 2021-2030, with a vision to 2045, should see coal-fired power be reduced to 37,467 MW, or 25-31% of total capacity by 2030, and about 10% by 2045.

According to Do Duc Hung, an official from Vietnam Electricity National Power Transmission Corp., per the current draft PDP VIII, Vietnam needs to invest about VND335,000 billion ($14.23 billion) in the grid system in 2021-2030.

Vietnam currently encourages all economic sectors to engage in developing power sources and the grid, while the state is the sole operator of electricity transmission.

At a meeting on Monday, PM Chinh told Kerry that Vietnam considers the goal of achieving net zero emissions and shifting from fossil energy to clean and renewable energy as an inevitable development trend for the world, as well as for itself.

The Vietnamese PM suggested the U.S. continue supporting Vietnam in the negotiation process to establish a fair energy transition partnership, as well as in technology and finance, energy development, legal frameworks, and experience sharing.

John Kerry is the first United States special presidential envoy for climate. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as the 68th United States Secretary of State from 2013 to 2017 under the Barack Obama administration. Kerry was a Vietnam war veteran.

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