Earth Hour is a worldwide movement organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The annual event is held to encourage individuals, communities, and businesses to turn off non-essential electric lights for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 pm on a specific day towards the end of March, as a symbol of the commitment to the planet. It was started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia, in 2007. Since then, it has grown to engage more than 7,000 cities and towns across 187 countries and territories worldwide.
In Vietnam, the “Lights off” ceremony is scheduled to take place at the August Revolution Square in Hanoi from 20:30 – 21:30pm on March 24 and will be televised on VTV1 channel. A number of awareness activities will also be held in Hanoi University of Science and Technology on March 5 and Chu Van An high school on March 3, including an exchange with the campaign’s ambassadors and educational seminars on efficient energy saving.
A series of Greener Garden activities in Hanoi’s households aim to reduce the use of plastic bags. Others include walking around the pedestrian streets or in the Old Quarter with the participation of the campaign’s ambassadors and a green creativity contest scheduled for March 18, during which university and college students will produce videos and short clips on the environment.
Vietnam has participated in the campaign since 2009 with an aim to show the commitment of the Government and people in the fight against climate change. According to the Global Risk Index 2017, Vietnam ranks among the top 10 countries affected by the impacts of weather-related events. Since the 1970s, disasters have caused more than 500 deaths annually in Vietnam, and cost more than 1.5% of the GDP in economic losses. These costs could well rise to 3-5% of the GDP by 2030.
Certain forecasts suggest that, by the end of the 21st century, temperatures may rise by 2 – 3 degrees Celsius ever year, leading to a 1-metre rise in sea levels which, in turn, may respectively flood 40% of the Mekong Delta and 11% of the Red River Delta. In that scenario, approximately 10-12% of the country’s population would be directly affected and 10% of the GDP would evaporate.
Climate change adaption and natural disaster prevention are among the most important issues for the sustainable development of the country. The Party and State have promulgated and implemented a number policies and strategies on natural disaster prevention, sustainable development and green growth in order to demonstrate Vietnam’s efforts and determination in responding to climate change.
Despite being a developing country, Vietnam has committed itself to an 8% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, the equivalent of 787.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, which could increase to a 25% reduction on the condition of international support.
The Earth Hour Campaign is a significant social event and has a great impact on raising the awareness of people and the community on energy saving, environmental protection and climate change response. All 63 provinces and cities across the country have committed to and responded to the campaign. According to statistics from Electricity of Vietnam, in 2017, up to 471,000 kWh of electricity was saved during the one-hour lights off. Many businesses and organisations across the country have joined the effort.
Over the past few years, the awareness and consciousness of the people have changed, but the campaign has not really spread into a deep and broad movement. The organisation of the campaign in certain places remains formal and is not fully practical. In order to make the Earth Hour campaign more effective and meaningful, administrations at all levels, as well as agencies and the people, should not only participate in the lights-off event but also self-improve their awareness of environment protection in a more practical manner. The Earth Hour Campaign should not be limited to energy saving figures but should also have a great impact on the whole community for the more important goal of environmental protection and climate change adaption.