Consumers urged to make ‘green’ choices

DUBAI - The fourth edition of the LG Greenomics Conference hosted discussions between public and private bodies on green policies that can be implemented across industries in the UAE.

By Praseeda Nair

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Published: Sat 26 Nov 2011, 12:41 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 10:39 AM

Organised by the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW) and LG Electronics, speakers at the conference included representatives from Global Green Growth Institute, The Carbon Advice Group, Emirates Wildlife Society-WWF and Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority, focusing on impending environmental threats and workable solutions in combating carbon emissions in a cost-efficient manner.

“Over 70 per cent of electricity consumption in the UAE is from airconditioning usage, which is not surprising. We are committed to ensuring high living standards for our residents, but at the same time, we need to make sure that environmental issues are addressed, through energy efficient airconditioning, for example. It is our aim to increase green awareness to help the public make the right choices as consumers. This is essentially about a strategic partnership between public and private sectors,” said Dr Rashid Ahmed bin Fahd, UAE Minister of Environment and Water.

Bin Fahd further explained the government’s plans to pass legislations for environmental concerns. “We are currently in the process of drafting a general umbrella law on curbing energy consumption. We have invested in integrating various energy sources, as seen from the MASDAR initiative and the Shams 1 plant in Abu Dhabi,” he added, referring to the solar plant currently under construction.

The minister also mentioned the issuing of an Energy Efficiency team in the proper labelling of consumer durables to increase eco-awareness and potentially influence public spending in a greener direction. “The body was issued a few months back, and has already been approved by the cabinet. A federal law will be put in place to incorporate all environmental issues, but the biggest challenge will be to change individual habits.”

Oliver Rothschild, VIP Delegate to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and Chairman of The Carbon Advice Group, spoke about the importance of finding a middle path between alternative energy sources and natural resources for a sustainable future, mirroring the Minister’s comment about using one to supplement the other. “In any discussion there are always two extremes. The first would be refraining from adopting any alternative energy solutions, presupposing that fossil fuels have an unlimited lifespan. The second would be to switch off all of our natural resources like coal, oil and gas, and blindly following economically unsound alternative energy resources. Situating ourselves in any of these extremes would be unprofitable, unsustainable and unrealistic. Marrying both tradition and new energy sources require an attitude adjustment on a global scale. Traditional energy industries need to be gradually transformed to incorporate alternative elements,” he said.

Emirates Wildlife Society-WWF (EWS-WWF)’s Laila Abdullatif presented two workable scenarios for the UAE to reduce its ecological footprint by 2030, using Abu Dhabi as a model. The scenarios incorporate tried and tested technologies from other parts of the world, such as reverse osmosis to address the dearth of potable water in the country, and imposing tariffs to curb electricity and water consumption. The scenarios project a 15 to 40 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, depending on the measures government bodies may choose to adopt.

Greenomics 2011 received an attendance from over 150 high level attendees ranging from industry and thought leaders, government entities, business conglomerates, environmental specialists, blue chip companies and academia, among others.

“We are all becoming more aware of our responsibility to protect and preserve our environment; to reduce waste and find and use alternative and more sustainable resources. At LG, we believe in the importance of community and business support, and that if we all work together we will be able to put clear goals to tackle the ecological footprint we face in the UAE. We acknowledge that collectively, we have to make some hard and fast decisions and take action now,” Ki Wan Kim, CEO and President of LG Electronics Middle East and Africa, said.

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