Vietnamese cities are cutting back on public lighting to save energy as unusually hot temperatures threaten to stretch the country’s electricity supplies.
A powerful heatwave has gripped swathes of Asia in recent months, causing school closures and deaths in India, as well as health warnings in several countries in the region.
Vietnam’s state utility EVN warned this month that unusually high temperatures could put the national power system under pressure due to rising electricity consumption, while water levels in some hydropower dams are more lower than normal.
The industry and trade ministry said the energy-saving measures would allow power to be conserved for domestic use and for the country’s vital manufacturing sector. In the capital, Hanoi, street lights were turned on 30 minutes later and turned off 30 minutes earlier than usual, the ministry said. Half of the street lights on some major roads and in public parks were completely turned off.
“Authorities in many provinces and municipalities are taking steps to save energy to ensure stable and secure power supplies,” the ministry said in a statement.
Office buildings and shopping malls in cities, including tourist hotspot Da Nang, have also been asked to allocate half of their energy use to outdoor lighting systems, while people are encouraged to use only air conditioning if necessary and turn off electronics that are not inside. use.
Globally, 2022 will be one of the hottest years on record, and the past eight years overall are the hottest documented by modern science. Scientists warn of higher temperatures to come.
Last week, the head of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Petteri Taalas, said that the combination of a warming El Niño that is expected to develop in the coming months and climate change caused by man “could push global temperatures into uncharted territory”.
Taalas warned of “far-reaching impacts on health, food security, water management and the environment”.
The extremely high temperatures recorded across Asia have prompted fears about a possible drought situation, as well as causing disruptions in education. Earlier this month, the Philippines allowed schools in Quezon City, its most populous city, to shorten their hours due to extreme heat, while in April at least two Indian states ordered schools to close for a week. In May, Malaysia allowed children to wear casual clothes rather than school uniforms during hot weather, and banned outdoor activities.
Maximiliano Herrera, a climatologist and weather historian who regularly reports record temperatures on Twitter, said the heatwave affecting Asia was “the worst tropical heatwave in the history of the world’s climate” in terms of intensity of temperature, the geographical spread and the length of time. for it lasted.
Monthly and all-time records were broken in southeast Asia, including in Vietnam, where 44.1C was recorded earlier this month in Tuong Duong in Nghe An province.
Herrera said that the severe temperature in the region is not over yet. “The worst may be yet to come, at least in some areas like Yunnan [south-west China],” he said.