Climate change could drown Vietnam's beaches: experts

By Bui Hong Nhung   August 19, 2016 | 11:01 am GMT+7

A one meter rise in sea levels could cost Vietnam $17 billion a year.

Rising sea levels are eating into Vietnam's sandy beaches, and are threatening to engulf them completely, according to a report released at a recent conference on developing sustainable tourism in Vietnam in the era of climate change.

At the conference, Peter Burns, an international expert in tourism, cited images taken from Google Earth, showing that since 2004, the coast of Hoi An, a popular tourist town in the central region, has witnessed significant change.  

Sea water has encroached into the mainland about 10 meters each year, causing sand banks to shrink and damaging resorts.

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Hoi An beach in 2004 (top) and in 2014 (bottom).

The same problem has been seen in southern provinces like Vung Tau and Kien Giang.

Experts emphasized that saltwater intrusion could damage heritage sites and tourism facilities, increasing costs for renovation and maintenance.

Vietnam is likely to be one of the top five countries most adversely affected by climate change, according to Vietnam’s Institute of Strategy and Policy.

Over the last 50 years, Vietnam’s average annual surface temperature has increased by approximately 0.5 -0.7 degree Celsius, while the sea level has risen by approximately 20 centimeters.

The United Nations warns that if sea levels rise by one meter, Vietnam will face a loss of $17 billion each year; one fifth of the population or some 18 million will be homeless and 12.3 percent of farmland will disappear.

Climate change has also resulted in severe natural disasters.

Since the end of last year, the worst drought and salinity in almost a century has taken its toll on the Mekong Delta, driving 1.5 million people to live without clean water and ruining more than 400,000 hectares of crops.

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