The nexus between economic growth, environmental pollution, and foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows has been intensively analyzed by a number of studies, but the empirical evidence more often than not remains controversial and ambiguous. This paper investigates the causal relationship between CO2 emissions, FDI and economic growth for Vietnam over the period 1986–2015. The empirical results provide a strong statistical evidence that overall there is the relationship, which has inverse U-shape between income per capita and environmental degradation in Vietnam. The turning point’s GDP per capita is about 3,145 US Dollar/year. This study suggests that policy-makers should control the environmental standards in the projects to improve environmental pollution and has attracted FDI of stability to achieve sustainable economic development for the long-run.