Vietnam sets 2020 emissions targets as nation chokes on smog

By Bui Hong Nhung   September 23, 2016 | 12:11 am PT
Vietnam sets 2020 emissions targets as nation chokes on smog
Emissions from vehicles is the leading source of air pollution. Photo by VnExpress/Son Hoa
Air pollution is worsening in Vietnam, compelling the government to swing into action.

Air pollution is worsening in Vietnam, forcing the government to think about setting limits on emissions from industrial factories and private vehicles by 2020, the Vietnam News Agency reported.

The process of industrialization and modernization has led to air pollution becoming one of the most acute problems confronting Vietnam’s large cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang, said Vo Tuan Nhan, deputy minister of natural resources and environment.

Vietnam was named in the worst 10 countries on the global air pollution index, according to the 2014 Environmental Performance Index created by researchers at Yale and Columbia universities in the U.S.

The main cause of pollution is exhaust fumes emitted by the country's 43 million scooters and 2 million private cars. Public transport, at the same time, only meets 10 percent of travel demands.

Emissions from industrial facilities like coal-fired power plants and cement and steel factories are another significant source of air pollution.

“Long exposure to polluted air will hinder the development of a child’s brain and result in respiratory diseases among adults,” the deputy minister said.

A survey conducted by the Ministry of Health showed that in every 100,000 Vietnamese citizens, 4,100 catch lung diseases; 3,800 contract sore throats and 3,100 get bronchitis.

Vietnam spends about VND400 billion ($17.6 million) each year to cure diseases related to air pollution.

Realizing the damage air pollution is doing to Vietnam, Nguyen Truong Huynh, a top official from the Vietnam Environment Administration, said that they have set targets of controlling emissions at 90 percent of the country's thermal power plants, 80 percent of its cement factories and 70 percent of its steel plants by 2020. They will also work to ensure 80 percent of industrial factories are within safe limits.

The Ministry of Transport is drawing up a plan to control emissions from private cars and motorcycles which will be piloted in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in 2020.

“We will focus on preventing air pollution rather than handling its effects. We will focus on Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City first as air pollution in the two cities has reached alarming levels,” Tuan, the deputy minister of environment, said.

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