During Earth Hour, UAE residents think solar

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During Earth Hour, UAE residents think solar
The Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi before (left) and during Earth Hour on Saturday. - Photos by Ryan Lim

Dubai - 96T CO2 emissions saved during Earth Hour this year


Sherouk Zakaria

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Published: Sun 26 Mar 2017, 9:06 AM

Last updated: Sun 26 Mar 2017, 5:23 PM

Despite rough weather and heavy rains, hundreds of residents gathered at Bay Avenue Park in Dubai to do their bit for the environment during Earth Hour.
Earth Hour, organised globally by World Wildlife Fund, encourages residents around the world to switch off their lights and unnecessary appliances to raise awareness on climate change and global warming.

How individuals can make a differenceWhile Earth Hour serves as a reminder to make efforts to save the environment, the lifestyle of individuals will help make the real difference. The UAE government is doing its part, now it's up to residents.
Sultan Al Zaabi, project manager conservation outreach and engagement at Dewa, said the government cannot make the difference alone. "One hand cannot clap; citizens need to contribute by making the small changes in their life."
Al Zaabi noted that the desire to change should be the drive.
"ACs, for example, take up 60 per cent of our electricity use given our climate in summer, but we should think of ways to become environment-friendly. Habits like lowering the AC or switching it off when you're not around make a huge difference over time."
Al Zaabi also urged residents to switch to LED bulbs which could save 90 per cent of electricity, noting that individual gestures can move the country closer to achieving sustainability.
"If climate change wasn't a reality and if it wasn't more important than ever to be sustainable, the government wouldn't have invested in it."
And since this year's local organiser, Emirates Wildlife Society-WWF (EWS-WWF), led its 'Green Goals' campaign asking social media users to share their promises under #EarthHourUAE of how they intend to play a part in tackling climate change, many Dubai residents took it one step further.
Besides switching off unused lights, Deena Halim is looking to install solar panels to power her new house. In talks with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), Halim said it would cost her over Dh20,000. "It is an investment. When I calculated it, spending this amount is much lower than the electricity we normally consume," said Halim.
"I have massive space on my rooftop, so I thought it's a great opportunity to use it in saving energy."
Nisrin Abu Asal and her family are now also looking to install solar panels in their new home. The Lebanese family, who are currently switching houses, are looking for solar panels that can power their heaters and outdoor lightning in their garden.
"Saving energy is saving earth, and life in general. The smallest move counts and every individual should start changing their own habits first," said Abu Asal.
Safeya Ahli, an employee at Dubai Municipality, told Khaleej Times that using environment-friendly devices will be her goal this year. "Earth Hour encourages us to contribute to the environment for one hour, but we have to take it as a habit in our daily lives," said Ahli.
While she switches off unused lights, Ahli said she is looking at more energy-saving methods. "I'm currently looking at using solar energy or implementing devices that generate electricity. For example, there are bike blenders that help you mix juices and smoothies while you cycle."
Natalie, a mother of two, said teaching her children small energy-saving habits is crucial. "I tell them to switch off the water tap while brushing their teeth, take shorter showers and play games with their friends other than video games."
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She added that the right habits should be taught to the young generation. "We should teach them to take the approach of "Let me," instead of "Why me." Teaching them to be good at school is one thing, but they have to also be active members of the society and help save the earth," said Natalie.
UAE's small big moves
Celebrating the global movement for its ninth year, the UAE joined Earth Hour in 2008, one year after its official launch in Australia in 2007.
From 2008-2017, Earth Hour has managed to save UAE 1.181 GwH of electricity and 1,054 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The country has taken up several initiatives to use renewable energy, including Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, set to be the largest in the Middle East to generate 1,000 megawatts by 2020 and 5,000 megawatts by 2030, enough to power 800,000 homes.
Through its Clean Energy Strategy, Dubai is looking to have 7 per cent of its total power output from clean energy sources by 2020, followed by 25 per cent by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2050.

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