Thursday, April 7, 2016

Creative anti-coal campaign in Vietnam


HO CHI MINH CITY, 06 APRIL 2016, Today CHANGE/ Vietnam officially releases the I Can't campaign in its entirety with three photo album with the overarching message of “Don’t let coal pollution destroy your life." The photo albums portray the deadly impacts of emission from coal-fired power plants, which are the greatest single threat to the climate and cause over 800,000 premature deaths worldwide annually [1].   
The first album – the "Artists Edition" –involves eight hugely popular Vietnamese singers, actors and performers: including the head of SOUL Music and Performing Arts Academy Thanh Bui, songwriter Tien Tien, singer Trong Hieu, singer Bich Ngoc, singer Hoang Quyen, actress Diem My, international choreographer Alexander Tu and dancer Do Hai Anh (please see descriptions below). They are transformed into different characters wearing gas masks to demonstrate the struggle they will have to go through in a coal-polluted Vietnam.
 “I devote myself to inspiring my students and pointing them in the right direction in life. I want them to have a clean safe environment so that they can grow and shine while pursuing their dreams. However, their dreams, life and future are seriously threatened by the worsened air pollution caused by coal. As a teacher and an artist, I feel the responsibility to speak up. Now or never” – said Thanh Bui, sharing his reason for participating in the creative campaign.
For the "Artists Edition," please visit the following link.

The second album – the "Family Edition" – looks at the family dynamics affected by coal plants. Five families participate with different stories: three families worrying about their children's future breathing polluted air, newly-weds fearful of forgetting each other's face under the gas masks, and a busy married couple who cannot express love under the masks in the limited time they have for each other. 

Photographer Vu Bao Khanh the director of the "Family Edition" album – shares his apprehension during the shoot: "In the imminent future where air quality is extremely bad, just the act of breathing will harm people's health. The gas masks from the Soviet Union era originally only for toxic working environment, are now needed for all social classes and ages. Life will go on, but with extreme uneasiness under the masks."
For the "Family Edition," please visit the following link.

The third album – the "Everyday Life Edition" – is carried out by youth volunteers passionate about protecting the environment. The album again highlights the inconveniences of wearing gas masks in different locations: at the park, the market, and especially at an actual coal-fired power plant: the controversial Vinh Tan plant in Binh Thuan province. 

For the "Everyday Life Edition," please visit the following links: at the park, at the market, at the Vinh Tan plant, Binh Thuan province.

In the coming months, I Can't will continue to raise public awareness for major cities and towns affected by air pollution from coal, and inspire individuals to become more concerned about environmental issues and understand the country's energy plans. Vietnam has the third largest pipeline of new coal plants in the world, with the government planning to build a massive 55 Gigawatts of new coal by 2030 [2]. According to a report by Harvard University, pollution from coal-fired power plants already causes 4,300 premature deaths in Vietnam annually [3]. Yet coal-generated electricity is still expected to account for more than 50% of the total energy production in Vietnam for the next 15 years [4].
The campaign, sponsored by the Global GreenGrants Fund and the Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance (VSEA) and supported by creative agency Rabbat, is the follow-up activity to a photo album of the same name, launched on social media in 2014, and of the Climate Action Festival POWER UP which enjoyed the participation of over 20 acclaimed artists and 1,500 youths in Ho Chi Minh City in November 2015.
Other activities in the campaign to engage the community include “Gas Mask Challenge”, the “Create I Can’t Slogan” competition and others on different social network platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This is a chance for the Vietnamese to join the fight against climate change, demand changes to the country’s energy policy and spread the message even further among the public.

Please visit website or for more information about this campaign.

Binh VUONG (Mr.)
Development Manager
Mobile: (+84) 908 474 448

[1] CoalSwarm, Greenpeace, and Sierra Club. 2016. Boom and Bust 2016: Tracking the Global Coal Plant Pipeline.
[2] Prime Minister. 2016. Revised Power Development Plant VII
[4] Prime Minister. 2016. Revised Power Development Plant VII

Editor’s notes:
List of eight performers and their individual photo concepts are as follows:
·       Artist Thanh Bui – principal of SOUL Music and Performing Arts Academy: image of a teacher sitting beside his broken piano, unable to teach while his students also struggle to learn in their gas masks.
·       Songwriter Tien Tien: image of a young artist holding a broken guitar, feeling hopeless as she cannot continue her dream.
·       Singer Trong Hieu – Vietnam Idol 2015 Winner: image of a singer longing to free his voice from the gas mask and escape from the destroyed world.
·       Singer Bich Ngoc – Vietnam Idol 2015 Runner-up: image of a nightingale not only losing her beautiful voice, but also facing death from pollution and climate change.
·       Singer Hoang Quyen – Vietnam Idol 2012 Runner-up: image of a mermaid living a tragic and hopeless life as she is unable to let out her charming voice.
·       Actress Diem My: image of an actress unable to continue the art of acting in a world in ruins.
·       International choreographer Alexander Tu – Director of Performance Department at Soul: image of a dancer constrained from dancing in a broken world.
·       Dancer Do Hai Anh – So You Think You Can Dance 2015 Winner: image of a swan with broken wings devastated when realizing that her dancing dream has ended because of pollution and climate change.

Center of Hands-on Actions and Networking for Growth and Environment (CHANGE), registered under the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA) is a Vietnamese non-profit organization. CHANGE is the official national partner of in Vietnam. The organization aims to develop and mobilize resources in order to raise awareness, change behavior and build capacity for the community to tackle environmental and climate change issues.