The impacts from climate related disasters, such as drought and typhoons, on people’s livelihoods are significant. Yet, energy supply is not often highlighted in discussions about urban climate resilience. A research by GreenID and Challenge to Change sheds some light on disaster resilient energy supply in the Vietnamese context.
Climate change will have a significant impact on the energy supply systems in our cities. Longer periods of drought might force hydropower plants to stop working, forcing blackouts in peripheral parts of cities. In times of floods critical infrastructure might be damaged. In the event of storms, pylons might topple over. The knock-on impacts of these power outages can be significant. Food and medicines that need to be cooled might spoil. People are not able to cool or light their workplaces, forcing them to work in much less favorable circumstances. Others are not able to work at all and lose income. Communication with fishing boats might be cut off. These impacts can only be mitigated at a high cost, for example through the use of a generator or by bringing goods to other places where they can be stored.
Nevertheless, energy is often overlooked as an aspect of urban climate resilience. In our research done by GreenID and Challenge to Change with support from IIED, we set some first steps into unraveling the dynamics between energy and climate induced disasters. We looked at the impacts from perturbations in the energy supply on the poorest groups in Nhon Ly and Nhon Hai, two communes in Quy Nhon City. The fishermen and people working in fish-processing industries are poorly prepared for perturbations in energy supply. Although they do have mechanisms to cope with energy supply problems, they do not know how to adapt their practices and how to prepare for these situations, thereby exacerbating their vulnerability.
Most of the structures for addressing these issues are already there. The CCCO, the city authorities and the local authorities (ward and commune people’s committees) could devote more resources to adaptation, rather than mitigating the impacts of disasters once they are happening. Existing awareness raising campaigns could include the issue of energy and disaster resilience. But it also requires new actions; working together with EVN and private sector to deliver technical solutions that could enhance the resilience of the energy supply system. Training local people to fix transmission lines that were damaged. However, real moves towards a more disaster resilient energy supply system, for example through decentralized energy solutions would require policy changes at the national level.
The report, written by Maarten Akkerman, Hoang Thanh Binh (GreenID) and Dang Thu Phuong (Challenge to Change), can be downladed here.