Hanoi’s fight against air pollution and climate change

Current air quality levels in Hanoi are literally leaving its citizens breathless. Concentrations of the most ubiquitous and harmful air pollutants, such as fine and coarse particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), nitrogen oxides (NOx), ozone (O3) etc. are rising in Viet Nam’s capital due to increased motorised traffic, construction work and industrial activities, as well as the persistent use of charcoal cooking stoves.

It has also become increasingly obvious that current commitments in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) will not be sufficient to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C, with mega-cities such as Hanoi contributing significantly to this challenge. Hence, increased mitigation efforts are needed, both at national and sub-national (e.g. city) level.

A promising approach involves reducing air pollution, thus not only preventing premature deaths and crop losses, but also climate change, as key air pollutants such as black carbon (a component of PM2.5), ozone and methane are also climate forcers, and are usually referred to as short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs).

The city of Hanoi’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DONRE) has realised the potential of this multi-benefit approach and has recently proclaimed that it will simultaneously tackle air pollution and climate change by reducing SLCP emissions. Some of the ambitious steps taken to achieve this goal include the development and implementation of an integrated air quality management plan; an expansion of public transport facilities (e.g. bus rapid transport, metro); limits on motorised individual transport (e.g. motorbikes with internal combustion engines to be banned by 2030); a shift to cleaner cooking stoves etc. There are also plans to run a general campaign among Hanoi’s citizens, specifically involving schools and universities, to raise awareness of the sources and health effects of air pollution. All these actions are either in the development or early implementation stage and should show some first positive effects on air quality in Hanoi over the next five years.

The German TV channel ‘Deutsche Welle’ followed a GIZ-managed project in Hanoi. The seven-minute video showing its work on the ground is available here