Press Review on Climate Change Impact and Environmental Pollution in 2016

Climate change adaptation and mitigation activities in 2016

Climate change is apparently taking place everywhere in all over the world, and the scientific evidence of its impact in water resources are stronger than ever. Every day we see or hear some proofs for that in the news or in our own living environment. Not an exception, Vietnam is ranked second in top 5 countries where most vulnerability with the impact of climate change. Coping with the negative impacts of climate change is urgently needed and it is priority problem for government and local authorities.

On 27th Oct 2016, Vietnamnews newspaper reported that Vietnam will lose nearly 39 percent of the total area of Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta – the biggest rice granary of the country if the sea level rises 100cm by the end of the century [1]. Localities of Hau Giang, Kien Giang, and Ca Mau are expected to suffer the most with inundated areas up to 80 percent, 77 percent and 58 percent respectively. It was released following the 2016 Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Scenarios for Việt Nam and by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment at a high-level meeting held in Hà Nội.

The Vietnambreakingnews wrote that the Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has ratified the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change [2]. He signed the Resolution No 93/NQ-CP on Oct 31st, on behalf of the Government of Việt Nam to ratify the agreement. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment stated that the Instrument of Approval was submitted to the United Nations Secretary-General on 3rd Nov 2016.

Protecting, maintaining and restoring ecosystems, especially water systems, is among the most urgent tasks for strengthening the country’s resilience to climate change, said Dr. Tran Van Giai Phong, technical specialist at the Institute for Social and Environment Transition (ISET). New index for Vietnam climate resilience is the project, carried out by the Ministry of Construction’s Urban Development Department in co-operation with ISET and the Asia Foundation aims at providing localities with an overview of their resilience against natural disasters and climate change, through which they can come up with appropriate solutions to tackle the problems. From surveys and research at five pilot cities in the first phase of the project, namely Lao Cai, Cam Pha, Hoi An, Gia Nghia and Ca Mau, experts find that critical ecosystems have been destroyed or degraded significantly in recent years. (Reported by Vietnamnet on 20th Dec 2016)[3]

 On 26th Dec 2016, The Vietnamplus newspaper announced that a project with total investment of 158 billion VND (6.9 million USD) is to upgrade additional 14km of sea dike in Ca Mau [4]. This is the second phase of the project which was invested by the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development since 2015 to not only protect agricultural land and prevent natural disasters, but also facilitate socio-economic development of the coastal district of U Minh.

Likewise, Hoi An’s coast also struggled with serious beach erosion in recent years. It is released that Quang Nam is expected to carry out a project on preventing erosion and sustainably protecting the coast of Hoi An city (Vietnam Plus, 2016). The project’s funding is set to be loaned by the French Development Agency (AFD). According to the city’s latest report, 20 hectares of the city’s Cua Dai beach was washed away between 2009 and 2014. [5]

Vietnam’s Next Environmental Hotspot

Environmental issues become more serious over the years in Vietnam which are drawing the attention of many publish media in over the world.   The Diplomat wrote that “Vietnam’s Next Environmental Hotspot[6], and the Vietnamplus also released “Many big pollution scandals uncovered in 2016[7].

Many different press media broadcasted the environmental scandals in Vietnam, especially the Millions of Fish Deaths Disaster along the coastline of Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue from 6th April to 18th April, 2016 which was reported by all Vietnam governmental newspapers and other international press such as The New York Time [8], The Guardian [9], The ABC News [10]. An estimated 70 tonnes of dead fish washed ashore along more than 200 km (125 miles) of Vietnam’s central coastline in early April, caused by the steel company – Formosa, Taiwan. According to Vietnamnet, the discharge from Ha Tinh’s Vung Ang contains toxins that killed fish and other creatures in the seabed. It is known as the largest pollutions scandals because the government moved too slowly in finding the cause and solving the problem.

Also related to the fish deaths, In total 60 tonnes of fish have died in the West Lake, the biggest lake, in Hanoi due to lack of oxygen reported by Vietnamnet on 1st Oct 2016.  An estimated 4,000 cubic meters of untreated wastewater is discharged into the lake every day from homes and businesses, information from the lake’s management board. According to VnExpress International, authorities said that some of the dead fish have been sent for testing to determine the cause of death [11].

Along with the polluted water problems, recently Officials are deeply concerned about the “serious degradation” of water quality in the Đồng Nai River basin. Huỳnh Anh Minh, Vice Chairman of the Bình Phước People’s Committee, said on Vietnamnews [12] that the water of all the three rivers (Đồng Nai River – the Bé, Sài Gòn and Đa Dâng rivers) are contaminated with effluents from production units, industrial parks, poultry farms, healthcare clinics and other establishments. Every day, some 29,700 cubic meters of effluents are dumped in the river, but as of now, only 70 dumping sources have been identified.

The Diplomat wrote that “Water, air, and land pollution have become more serious over the years in Vietnam, particularly at industrial complexes that are often equipped with low-quality technologies imported from China”. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of eco-agricultural land have been revoked and replaced by non-sustainable industrial projects, particularly Chinese-owned Lee & Man Paper pulp mill and thermal power plants located along vital waterways in the Delta, such as the Hau River and Tien River.  Vietnamplus also published the news titled “Many big pollution scandals uncovered in 2016” which said that more than 50 big other pollution cases were also brought to light, stirring public concern. Most of them polluted river and sea water by intentionally releasing waste that contains toxic substances. Some were caused by the lax management of production activities or the use of below-standard equipment.

There were a lot of projects launched to address the problems related to waste water. The Germany-Việt Nam Water Forum held on 9th Nov 2016, in HCM City, introduced the new German Development Corporation (GIZ) and Ministry of Construction publication “Resilient Cities in Vietnam: A Guide for Planning Urban Environment Programs” (Vietnamnews, Nov 2016) [13]
















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