Latest research estimates 39 percent of the Mekong Delta and more than 20 percent of HCM City would be flooded by the end of this century if sea levels rise by one metre.

Director of the Vietnam Institute of Meteorology Hydrology and Environment Tran Thuc said that the latest studies on the effects of climate change and rising sea levels also predicted the same problem would affect more than 10 percent of the Red Delta and 2.5 percent of the central region.

"The new research is more in depth than the 2009 version, and has more detailed figures on temperatures, rainfall and rising sea levels," Thuc said.

The scenario would affect 35 percent and 7 percent of the population in the Mekong Delta and HCM City respectively, said Thuc, adding that more than 4 percent of railways and 9 percent of national highway systems would be affected.

Thuc was speaking at a conference held by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), the UNDP and the National Assembly's Committee for Science, Technology and Environment in Hanoi on Nov. 19 to report to National Assembly deputies about the implementation of the national plan for climate change, which started in 2008.

Le Cong Thanh, director of MONRE's Centre for Meteorology, Hydrology and Climate Change, said that one problem in coping with climate change is the slowness in putting climate change issues into social and economic development policies.

"Many localities are still not ready to build their own action plans for climate change," Thanh said, adding that only 30 out of the total 65 cities and provinces nationwide had plans in place.

UNDP Resident Representative Louise Chamberlain said that Vietnam should stimulate private sector investment in climate change plans since the State budget alone would not be enough, while the national and international private sector held vast amounts of investment potential and modern technology.

"The private sector requires cohesive, transparent and above all a predictable policy and a level playing field in order to generate green investments," she said.

Chamberlain also said that increasing taxes on fossil fuels and enhancing the environmental tax law should be considered.

"The aim of such so-called green policies is to shift the market incentives to encourage more investment in renewable technology, which is now not yet feasible because the energy price in Vietnam is still very low," she added.-VNA