Sat, June 15, 2024

Record High Coal Use and Emissions in Vietnam, 2024

China and its Dependence on Coal

Quick Look:

  • Vietnam’s coal consumption and emissions hit record highs in 2024 due to reduced hydroelectric power and expanded manufacturing.
  • Vietnam’s thermal coal imports surged in the first five months of 2024 to meet demand.
  • Vietnam overtook South Korea in emissions and is projected to be one of Asia’s largest coal emitters by year-end.
  • The rise in coal use underscores the conflict between rapid economic growth and environmental sustainability

Vietnam’s coal consumption and emissions have reached unprecedented levels in 2024. This surge is attributed to a confluence of factors, including a significant reduction in hydroelectric power, expansion in the manufacturing sector, a strategic focus on fossil fuel-based energy generation, and the country’s rapid economic growth. The reliance on coal for electricity has sharply increased, with coal accounting for a substantial portion of the country’s electricity in April 2024. This marks a significant jump from the previous year. In the first four months of 2024 alone, electricity generation soared, representing a substantial increase from the previous year. Consequently, emissions have also spiked, marking a significant rise in CO2 emissions.

Vietnam’s Coal Imports Surge Millions of Metric Tonnes by May 2024

This dramatic increase in coal usage is partly due to a significant drop in electricity generation from hydroelectric dams, which contributed less to the country’s electricity output in 2024. Additionally, natural gas output has decreased compared to the same period last year. To meet the burgeoning demand, Vietnam has substantially increased its coal imports. In the first five months of 2024, thermal coal imports surged significantly, amounting to millions of metric tonnes by May. This spike has propelled Vietnam’s share of global thermal imports to a higher percentage in 2024, potentially positioning the country to surpass its record of imports from previous years.

Vietnam Overtakes South Korea in 2024 Coal-Fired Emissions

Vietnam has overtaken South Korea in coal-fired emissions for 2024. It is projected to become one of Asia‘s largest coal emitters by the year’s end. According to the International Monetary Fund, Vietnam’s GDP growth is anticipated to be twice the global average through 2029. Hereby further underpinning the country’s escalating energy demands. Despite global efforts to reduce carbon footprints, Vietnam’s increased reliance on coal underscores the challenges of balancing rapid economic growth with environmental sustainability. Data from energy think tanks highlight these trends and their implications.

Health and Climate Risks Rise

The burgeoning use of coal in Vietnam highlights several critical implications. Despite global initiatives to decarbonise, the increased reliance on fossil fuels signifies a significant step back from efforts to adopt cleaner energy alternatives. The substantial rise in consumption and emissions could severely affect air quality and climate change, posing health risks and contributing to global warming. The country’s rapid economic expansion and heightened energy demands have resulted in a trade-off between economic growth and environmental sustainability.

Vietnam’s Coal Dependence Grows as Neighbors Cut Back

While Vietnam increases its coal usage, neighbouring countries such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand are reducing their coal dependency. This contrast highlights differing regional approaches to energy policy and climate commitments. As Vietnam grows economically, finding a sustainable path that balances economic needs with environmental responsibilities remains challenging. The country’s current trajectory of coal dependence presents significant hurdles that will require innovative solutions and strategic policy changes to overcome.

Balancing Energy Demand and Environment Challenge

The ongoing heatwaves have exacerbated energy consumption, particularly for air conditioning, further driving up coal usage. This complex interplay of factors makes Vietnam’s situation a critical case study in the global energy and environmental policy dialogue. Addressing these challenges will be crucial for Vietnam to achieve a sustainable energy future while continuing its rapid economic growth. The nation must navigate these competing demands to secure a balanced energy and environmental strategy approach.

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