UAE residents to observe Earth Hour on Saturday
All it takes is 60 minutes to show your solidarity with the message of Earth Hour.
Come 8.30pm on Saturday, Earth Hour, now in its ninth year, is encouraging residents in the UAE and 177 other participating countries to switch off lights.
In what has become a symbiotic bond between millions of ecologically minded people around the globe, offices and residences in the UAE will go dark for Earth Hour 2016 to send a message of environmental conservation and preservation.
From the Empire State Building and the UN headquarters in New York to the Eiffel Tower in Paris and Burj Khalifa in Dubai, lights will be switched off in a unified gesture reminding people to turn off electrical appliances in their homes, turn down air-conditioning and burn less fossil fuels to reduce greenhouse gases.
The goal is to support global efforts to limit temperature increases to within 1.5 degrees Celsius as set forth in the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP21, in Paris in November last year.
Earth Hour is organised by World Wildlife Fund and involved 7,000 cities last year.
Siddarth Das, executive director, Earth Hour Global, told Gulf News on Wednesday that the environmental celebration is not so much about saving energy as it is about making a mass statement around the world in the name of saving the planet.
As the momentum of Earth Day grows every year, so does the gravity and reach of the message to millions of people, especially youth.
“Earth Hour is WWF’s mass engagement platform for climate action. Earth Hour started in Sydney in 2007 as an idea to unite Sydney-siders to deliver a firm message that climate change was an issue they cared about. In the years since, not only has the movement grown to 178 countries and territories [in 2016] but it has evolved into the world’s largest grass roots movement for the environment,” Das said.
“Earth Hour is not an energy-saving exercise and therefore we do not measure the energy saved. Switching off the lights is a symbolic gesture, the first step toward taking a stand for climate action. It is a powerful visual reminder that not only do people care about changing climate change but, when individuals unite, the power of the collective can create massive impact as we have seen with Earth Hour over the past nine years. As people turn off the lights, they are making the switch from passive bystanders to showing they care and are ready to take action for the planet. The popular appeal of these highly visual symbolic gestures also helps WWF and Earth Hour communicate the importance of climate issues and the need to take action throughout the year to create tangible environmental impact,” Das said.
The Emirates Wildlife Society-World Wildlife Fund in the UAE is partnering with local organisers from Abu Dhabi and Dubai to Sharjah and Fujairah where special public events are planned to observe the hour.
Noora Luotola, brand manager, EWS-WWF, told Gulf News that Earth Hour is about giving people a voice for environmental change.
“This is an opportunity for people to come together to join the global movement and a symbolic gesture to encourage the country to take climate action,” Luotola said on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi. “This is everyone’s chance where their voice can be heard. The goal is keep global temperature increases within 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
In Dubai, special Earth Hour celebrations are being planned for the public by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) and Dubai Supreme Council of Energy.
Earth Hour celebrations run from 4pm-10pm in Bay Avenue Park and include a special walk to encourage environmental awareness that kicks off at 8.30pm to coincide with the beginning of the actual hour itself.
Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, vice-chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and Managing director and CEO of Dewa, said the event is “in line with the Dubai Carbon Abatement Strategy 2021 to reduce carbon emissions by 16 per cent by 2021 … the strategy aims to provide seven per cent of Dubai’s energy from clean energy sources by 2020. This target will increase to 25 per cent by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2050”.
Al Tayer noted that by launching initiatives to reduce electricity and water use, Dewa managed to save 1,344 gigawatts (GW) of electricity, and 5.6 billion imperial gallons of water, saving Dh841 million, and limiting carbon dioxide emissions by over 714,000 tonnes.
Amal Koshak, senior manager of Marketing Communications at Dewa, told Gulf News that Saturday’s event is in keeping with plans to “transform Dubai into an international hub for clean energy and green economy with the lowest carbon footprint in the world by 2050, while combining the efforts of public and private organisations to achieve the Dubai Plan 2021 to transform Dubai into a smart, integrated, and connected city, capable of managing its resources in pursuit of protecting its energy resources, and reducing the emirate’s carbon footprint, creating a sustainable future for generations to come”.