|Make your mark: Danish Ambassador John Nielsen and a representative from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment put their fingerprints on the Earth Hour tree. — Photo courtesy Denmark Embassy
HA NOI (VNS)— The 2013 Earth Hour campaign You and I, Together We Act kicks off today at the August Revolution Square in front of the Ha Noi Opera House in Ha Noi.
Launched by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) a month ago, the campaign aims to raise awareness about energy conservation and get individuals to make major changes to their lifestyles to battle climate change.
Tonight from 8.30pm to 9.30pm, every family, organisation and hotel in Viet Nam is encouraged to switch off lights and unnecessary electrical appliances to join the rest of the world in observing Earth Hour – a global initiative started by the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Other related activities included a short film competition, collecting people's fingerprints as a commitment to conserve energy and fight against climate change and a group bicycle trip called "Green Movement" where more than 200 volunteers rode bicycles around Ha Noi's centre.
Dane returns as ambassador
The Danish Ambassador, John Nielsen, has been chosen as the ambassador of the Earth Hour campaign in Viet Nam for the second year in a row.
Denmark was one of the first countries to support Viet Nam's climate change programme.
Since the beginning of March, Nielsen has gone around universities and colleges in Ha Noi to talk to young people about the consequences of climate change, promote awareness among them and explained what they can do themselves to save energy.
He also helped with a children's photography contest on the theme of living green and joined two mass bicycle rides around the capital.
For Nielsen, saving energy is a daily practice rather than a once-a-year event.
"Every day when I leave my house, I switch off the lights. I also use bikes in my spare time. I've never used a car for private purposes," he said. "I've also tried to teach my kids to get in the habit of saving energy. They are part of the next generation, so I think it's very important."
He is glad to see that Vietnamese people have become more aware about the consequences of climate change over the last few years. But, he says, nothing can change overnight. "It's a long-term investment," he said.
Nielsen noted that Denmark has experienced 30 years of growth without increased energy consumption. The country's knowledge about green growth can be enormously helpful to Viet Nam in the coming years, opening up possibilities for further co-operation between Vietnamese and Danish companies in all sectors. Denmark has chosen four areas to focus on in regard to green growth: energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste management and water. — VNS
As many as 41 films were submitted to the contest, of which the 10 best were screened at the Keangnam building in Cau Giay District. The list of the winners will be announced today.
Danish Ambassador to Viet Nam John Nielsen, Miss Friendly Duong Thuy Linh, and singers Tung Duong and Bao Tram acted as ambassadors for the event, making appearances at several colleges and universities in Ha Noi to raise awareness among students about climate change.
"In recent years, Earth Hour has made a significant impression on Vietnamese people's awareness of the causes and consequences of climate change, among which inefficient use of energy is a major contributing factor. It's time we turned this understanding into practical actions to save energy, protect our living environment and build a green, sustainable economy," said MoIT Deputy Minister Le Duong Quang.
He called on every individual to commit to specific, practical daily actions to fight climate change.
Quang said that 2012's Earth Hour helped save 546,000kWh in Viet Nam, worth VND712 million (US$32,000) – much higher than the 2011 event, which resulted in savings of 400,000kWh.
First introduced in Viet Nam in 2009, the event has seen a considerable increase in the number of participating organisations, businesses and individuals. In 2009, only six provinces participated; by 2012, that number had increased to 48.
HCM City gears up too
Businesses and residents in HCM City have been preparing for Earth Hour by launching projects to raise awareness about energy savings and the negative impacts of climate change.
The city's Green Energy Street Quarter project replaced about 400 normal bulbs with energy-saving bulbs.
Under the Ecological Roof project, an old metal roof at the Hoa Phuong Kindergarten School in Binh Chanh District was replaced with an environmentally friendly one.
And today, the French-owned Big C supermarket plans to open its first hypermarket using solar power in Di An Town of Binh Duong Province.
With an investment of more than VND11 billion (US$524,809), the solar power system will enable Big C Di An to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 150 tonnes each year. — VNS