It’s Monday, December 19, and wealthy countries and financial institutions want to aid Vietnam’s transition away from fossil fuels.

A group of wealthy nations including the United States, the U.K., and several European Union member states announced last week that they will give Vietnam $15.5 billion for its transition from coal to renewables. The funding aims to help the Southeast Asian country phase out the most polluting fossil fuel and reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“This partnership will help Vietnam to build a 21st century power sector, energizing its economic growth and bringing environmental and health benefits to its citizens,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission — the EU’s executive body — said in a statement.

The $15.5 billion will be delivered over the next three to five years, and half of it is set to come from the public sector. The rest will come from private investors, including major financial institutions like Bank of America, Citi, and HSBC.

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The deal is part of the global Just Energy Transition Partnership, an intergovernmental effort to mobilize funding for coal-dependent countries in the developing world. The idea is to make it easier for them to phase out coal plants and replace them with renewable energy projects. South Africa was the partnership’s first beneficiary — it was promised $8.5 billion in 2021 to accelerate its shift away from coal. Last month, the partnership announced $20 billion in public and private funds for Indonesia.

For Vietnam, where coal accounts for 50 percent of energy consumption, the funding is expected to limit coal-fired power capacity to 30.2 gigawatts — rather than the 37 gigawatts the country had previously planned — and bring forward the date at which the country’s emissions peak from 2035 to 2030. It is also expected to help Vietnam generate 47 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, up from 23 percent currently.

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Environmental advocates applauded the new funding as further evidence that coal is on its last legs. However, some raised concerns about Vietnam’s record on human rights, calling on the country to release four environmental defenders who have been arrested over the past year and a half, including the award-winning climate expert Nguy Thi Khanh.

“Climate justice and human rights must be integral to the world’s transition to clean energy,” Maureen Harris, a senior adviser for the nonprofit International Rivers, said in a statement.

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