For the first time ever, people of Ho Chi Minh City took to the street to join the global climate strike, to demand serious and urgent climate action needed for their city which is among the most impacted, threatened by both sea level rise and air pollution.
The participants, including both locals and expats, parents and children, were holding hand-made placards and posters, saying “There’s no planet B”, “Climate change is real’, “How I can live if it’s this hot?”, “What we stand on is what we stand for”.
The action was initiated by a young Vietnamese, Huyen Phan, who a few years ago came back from her overseas study in Australia, just to find out how polluted her city was.
“I was very surprised that people around me did not care at all about climate change, or air pollution. When I heard about the global climate strike, I was searching hard to find an event in Ho Chi Minh City and could not find any, so I decided to create one myself”, said Huyen.
Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon) is among the world’s top cities threatened by sea level rise. On top of that, in the past few weeks of September, together with the capital city Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City ranked among the top cities with the worst air quality. Due to restrictive contexts, actions could not be organized in Vietnam when the first global climate strike was held in March, but this time, concerned residents decided to join the global community to speak up for their own and their children’s survival.
“It is sad that although Vietnam is so threatened by climate change, many foreign investors are still investing in dirty energy projects which will worsen the air pollution that people are already experiencing. AQI in some parts of HCMC reached over 200 last Friday when the global strike started. NGOs and activists have protested, but I believe change will only happen when the frontline community becomes aware and starts to speak up. What makes me so proud, is that this time, the strike was not organized by any climate NGO, but by concerned individuals. This is the people power that is critical for putting pressure on the world leaders to take things more seriously”, commented Hong Hoang, 350.org Vietnam Coordinator.
Some quotes from the Vietnamese youth who joined
- Nguyen Dinh Thieu, 16 years old: I joined the climate strike because I had been inspired by Greta. She is only at my age, but is so brave and so persistent in her fight against such a critical issue that the world should be a lot more concerned about, which is climate change. I really wish to do something for my community too. I want to be as brave as Greta, and I am proud that by joining the action on Sunday, I became one of those young Vietnamese people speaking up against climate destruction. And I hope there will be more Vietnamese young people like us.
- Nguyen Nhut Truong, a student: I heard about the School Strike for Climate movement for a long time. But I couldn’t find any events in HCMC the last 2 Global School Strikes. I’m so glad that finally we have our first strike. I’m so happy to see so many people came, who share the same mindset. It’s just our first – I’m so hopeful that more people will come in the future!
- Tran Thi Mai Yen, an accountant: When I read the facts about climate change on the page Hành Tinh Titanic, I was really shocked and worried about the future of our next generation including my son. I was inspired by Greta Thunberg and her active movement “schoolstrike for climate”. I hope more and more people will realize the fact that our planet is exhausted and dying, so we need to take action now.
Quotes from some expats who joined:
- Anne Gone, from Germany: I took part with my kids, because they will suffer from the consequences of the our irresponsible behaviour even more than us. I was glad to see people in Vietnam showing the solidarity with the global movement as the issue is not on the agenda here as much as in our home country Germany.
- Osama Sayed, from Egypt: I participated in today’s strike in HCMC and I participated because I think that the only way to stop the mass extinction our only home Earth is witnessing and the systematic destruction of its finite resources at the moment and the only way to make sure we don’t miss the only chance we have left if we wish to continue existing on this planet is by raising awareness and educating the masses about what each and everyone of us has to do. I hope that my participation would initiate conversations and would be a reason for people to start acting and to start realizing how dire and serious the situation is and that we have became so advanced to the point we became a threat to our own existence.
- Natasha Faria and Jarrod, from South Africa: We joined the strike as we have been following Greta Thunberg and we care about the environment and progressive politics. We come from South Africa, where we were involved in environmental causes, too. We have lived in Vietnam for a year and a half now, and we are happy to see so many people coming together for something so important.
- Anonymous: ‘Today I felt privileged witnessing and participating in Saigon’s climate strike. Perhaps, we could hardly count a hundred of people participated in this event and it might seem like nothing compare to the strikes in Europe. But it is big! Strikes in Asia are rare and in some countries are even illegal. But this brave group of people understands that climate is changing so fast, so that they have to change their society and to start speaking up for their future and for everyone’s future no matter what.”