Join a global movement to take a positive step towards curbing climate change.
Last year was the warmest year for the oceans due to climate change. As we burn more fossil fuels, harmful emissions such as carbon dioxide, mercury and methane are destroying the environment as well as causing damage to human health.
It’s in times of such a global emergency that campaigns like Earth Hour, commemorated this year on 30th March between 8.30pm and 9.30pm, are so vital.
Launched by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Sydney, Australia in 2007, the annual global initiative sees cities turn off their lights in a bid to create awareness around environmental issues that are affecting all of us and encourage people to change daily habits in order to minimise our carbon footprint.
“Earth Hour is a locally relevant initiative that is also the biggest global environmental movement thanks to the power of individuals coming together no matter where they are in the world,” explains Dr Deepti Mahajan Mittal, climate and energy lead at Emirates Nature-WWF.
“Worldwide, we are seeing more extreme weather, melting glaciers and rising sea levels. Our oceans are becoming more acidic, water supplies are dwindling, food crops are struggling and many communities are being changed or destroyed.
“Even though we don’t have much rainfall, the UAE has experienced storms that have led to flooding, causing disruption to travel, logistics and buildings, for example. Climate change is predicted to lead to these sorts of extreme events becoming more intense and frequent.”
Sustainability in the UAE
In 2008, the UAE became the first Arab country to participate in Earth Hour. Last
year alone, 77,008 people pledged their support here while local landmarks such
as Emirates Palace and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque plunged into darkness to support the movement.
The country is constantly working to reduce its carbon footprint, too. By 2050, the UAE hopes to reduce carbon emissions by 70 percent, and aims to have 44 percent of the its power consumption deriving from renewables by the same year.
“The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan envisioned and championed a sustainable UAE,” Dr Deepti says. “He believed that development must not occur at the cost of nature’s wellbeing. His legacy has been kept alive through various initiatives [such as] conserving protected areas and endangered species.”
But while strategies are underway on a corporate and national level, what can you do as an individual to make our community and planet more sustainable?
“People are at the heart of the environmental challenges we face today – and the solutions we need to turn things around,” Dr Deepti explains.
“Individuals must take responsibility for protecting the planet and incorporate it into their day-to-day living.
“This could be as simple as being more conscientious with natural resources such as water or energy, using and wasting less or even using our purchasing power to buy more sustainable brands. There is something each and every one of us can do to make a positive impact.”
Simple Steps to Take Action
Turn off the tap
Water is one of the world’s most precious resources, and living in a desert country where supply is so scarce makes conserving it all the more important. With an increase in demand and a decrease in supply, it’s important to take simple steps to reduce your water consumption such as turning off the tap when you brush your teeth or wash the dishes.
Ditch the plastic
Did you know that a single plastic product takes up to 1,000 years to decompose? Reduce your consumption of plastic by using stainless steel Tupperware for your lunch, swapping plastic bottles and straws for reusable ones and packing your groceries into reusable bags at the checkout. Stock up on plastic-free supplies online at: thegreenecostore.com
Reduce, reuse, recycle
Take a look at the amount of waste you’re producing and ask yourself if you reuse anything you’re about to throw away. Better yet, can you reduce the amount of waste you produce?
When it comes to recycling, waste such as paper, plastic and aluminium cans are all easily recycled here as are computers and other electronics.
Abu Dhabi is making recycling easy for us by installing new stations across the city. The first has opened next to Khalidiyah Park where you can recycle everything from cardboard and mobile phones to cotton, used batteries and coloured glass.
Join the Movement
Want to pledge your support? Make your promise to the planet at earthhour.ae
and share it on social media tagging @ews_wwf and using the hashtag #connect2earth. You can also join in the group’s Pass It On campaign on Instagram.
WORDS Ayesha Ghaffar