ABU DHABI // A new website suggests how people can cut their utilities bills and at the same time help reduce the effects of climate change. Promoters of the website say a few simple steps can significantly reduce power use, such as switching to energy-saving light bulbs, turning down air conditioning and turning off water heaters when they are not being used.
A calculator on the site shows how many tonnes of carbon dioxide households produce every year, a figure that is governed by such things as the size of the home, the number of electrical appliances and whether energy-saving measures are used. The website carrying the calculator (www.heroesoftheuae.ae) was launched by the Emirates Wildlife Society (EWS) in association with the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) as part of a nationwide campaign to reduce the UAE's energy consumption, which is among the highest per capital in the world.
Studies show that UAE residents understand the importance of energy conservation but rarely do anything about it. "Any attempt to reduce the UAE's footprint must deal with usage of energy, which relies on fossil fuels," said Razan al Mubarak, the managing director of the WWF-EWS association. "The campaign appeals for all to participate, all communities, age groups and residents, with the conviction that action, no matter how small, will collectively make a difference."
Ms al Mubarak said the campaign's interactive nature - people can make pledges via the website to reduce their consumption and monitor their progress - would help it succeed. "This isn't just a one-way stream of information," she said. "The whole website is quite interactive. We seek the participation of the public and their opinion." Even though the potential to save money is the initiative's central theme, promoters also emphasised the human consequences of energy sustainability. They named the campaign "Heroes of the UAE" in recognition of young generations who would benefit from action taken today.
A press conference yesterday began with speeches by five children from Emirates International School-Meadows. They were dressed in costume and given names such as Captain Air Con and Electra Efficient. They highlighted the ecological consequences of climate change and appealed to the audience to reduce its energy consumption. "A sustainable UAE is every child's right," said Mohammed al Bowardi, the chairman of the EWS.
"In the UAE, not only are we at risk of using more energy than we can supply, but by burning so many fossil fuels we are contributing to climate change. "Unabated, this will have a huge impact on the lifestyles, coastal landscapes and natural heritage of future generations. "We have to act now to stop this from happening." According to the EAD's State of Environment Report, Abu Dhabi's annual electricity demand has surged in the past 10 years, from 1,766 megawatts to 4,320 megawatts.
Water production and use is also linked to greenhouse gas emissions because of our reliance on fossil fuel energy for desalination, pumped distribution and water treatment. The UAE stands to face some of the harshest impacts of global warming, such as hotter summers, scarcer fresh water, more extreme weather and rising sea levels, environmental experts say. "Heroes of the UAE" is being supported by the Ministry of Environment and Water, the Ministry of Energy, Adwea, Masdar and Abu Dhabi Media Company.