x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UAE ambassadors for the environment

If more people understood the sobering discoveries of climate scientists, more would act to solve one of the biggest challenges of the century.

Timothy Paul was one of seven UAE residents to meet former US vice president Al Gore at athree-day training in Istanbul, organised by the Climate Reality Project. Satish Kumar / The National
Timothy Paul was one of seven UAE residents to meet former US vice president Al Gore at athree-day training in Istanbul, organised by the Climate Reality Project. Satish Kumar / The National

Seven residents have received tips from the former United States vice president, Al Gore, in how to convince people of the need to combat climate change.

Timothy Paul, Allyson Sosa, Hema Shetty, Clay Gervais, Clara and Lisa Harter and Subind K joined more than 400 delegates from 77 countries at a three-day training session in Istanbul organised by the Climate Reality Project, which is chaired by the American environmental campaigner.

All delegates spent a day in training with Mr Gore and received detailed advice from him on how to most effectively present the latest in climate science.

In 2007, Mr Gore became co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to educate the public on climate change through the documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

It was this film that motivated Mr Paul, a South African, to become engaged in climate issues.

“For me it had quite a remarkable impact,” he said. “I came out of there thinking if this is true ... if these predictions are true in terms of the potential impacts – droughts, sea-level rise, increased temperatures and the terrible things that come attached with that – why aren’t we doing something?”

In 2009, a year after watching the film, the finance and business graduate applied for a Master’s degree in energy and development studies at the University of Cape Town.

In 2011, he joined the sustainability team of the shipping company he worked for, yet he felt there was still more he could do.

“I wanted to do something that could really affect a larger part of society,” said Mr Paul. “This is one of the greatest threats to humanity at this point and there is too much indifference and apathy, both from leaders and from the general public.”

For Mr Paul, one of the strongest indicators of the need for action is the melting of the Arctic ice cap, which has shrunk in size from six million square kilometres in 1979 to 3.5 million square kilometres in 2012.

“To me this rings alarm bells. They say it is the canary in the coal mine of climate change, and it really hit home this is actually happening now,” he said.

With their training now completed, the seven residents will reach out to business leaders, Government officials and members of the general public, educating them on the need to act.

“The ultimate result will be to take the raw data and spread it as wide as we can,” said Allyson Sosa, who moved to the UAE in January.

The American mother of two said she joined the initiative out of concern for the world her children will be left with.

The 28-year-old is planning a blog on climate change and is already telling people about the need to do more. “I find a lot of people who are in disbelief,” she said. “They cannot believe it has come to this and no one has done enough about it.”

Adopting more clean power is one of the solutions that Mr Paul and Mrs Sosa recommend.

vtodorova@thenational.ae