Vietnam: Major changes in the new environmental protection law
The National Assembly of Vietnam, during its recent 10e meeting, adopted the new law on environmental protection (“New law”) Following the proposal of the Vietnamese Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE).1 The new law represents the most significant modernization of Vietnam’s environmental legal regime since the first environmental protection law in 1993. It will enter into force on January 1, 2022 and will replace the current 2014 law on environmental protection. Environmental Protection (“Current law“).
Vietnam is moving towards the harmonization of its laws with international rules and practices. The new law provided much more detail for implementation, rather than just providing general regulations and policies. New legal requirements and procedures have also been introduced that businesses will need to familiarize themselves with, from waste management to environmental permits.
Compared to the current law, the new law proposes, among others, the following important legal changes:
- A new master license is proposed to replace a number of environmental permits (“Environmental license“), as well as a new environmental registration procedure, with a target of 40% reduction in administrative procedures.
- A narrower range of projects (i.e. those that use large areas of land / water and produce negative effects on the environment / landscape, as well as those that generate large amounts of waste) may be subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR), but companies will be subject to greater responsibility for completing, supplementing and complying with the environmental requirements of their EIARs.
- A wider range of wastes and environmentally harmful products / goods may be subject to environmental protection taxes, contrary to existing regulations; it is likely that these are certain categories of industrial wastewater. Companies will also be subject to recycling or monetary compensation obligations for certain products and packaging.
- The first introduction of a concrete policy on an emissions trading system and a carbon tax. In theory, companies would be allocated their own emission allowances which can be sold, offered or transferred on a market-based trading system.
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1 These are set out in several laws, including the current law, the Water Resources Law (2012) No. 17/2012 / QH13 and the Irrigation Law (2017) No. 08/2017 / QH14.