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WWF (EWS-WWF) and EAD launch ‘Heroes of the UAE’ campaign

United Arab Emirates: Wednesday, February 18 - 2009 @ 11:14

Aimed at people of all ages and backgrounds, the campaign emphasises that action now can safeguard the environment for our children’s future.

This message was emotionally delivered from children of the UAE, who made a surprise appearance at the press conference. Demonstrating the simplicity of the steps towards achieving this goal, the children appealed to the audience to save the environment and the planet for their future.

Explaining the reasons behind the campaign, H.E. Mohamed Al Bowardi, Chairman of EWS said, “We are on the brink of a global ‘ecological credit crunch’, whereby we are using natural resources faster than our planet can supply them. 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 -after all, a sustainable UAE is every child’s right.”

At the Abu Dhabi launch, Ms Razan Al Mubarak, Managing Director of EWS-WWF said, “UAE residents impose a big load on natural systems, both locally and globally. This can be observed from the population’s Ecological Footprint that has remained consistently high since it was first reported in 1998. The biggest contributor to the UAE’s large Footprint is carbon dioxide emissions, accounting for over 80% of the total and mainly related to fossil-fuel based energy consumption. Any attempt to reduce the UAE’s Footprint must, therefore, deal with usage of energy, mainly oil and natural gas. It is going to take the support of all of us in the UAE to reduce demand to a sustainable level. I would urge everyone to show their support and join the campaign online at the campaign’s website, www.heroesoftheuae.ae.”

The highly interactive website has been designed specifically to provide a forum for the public to show their support for the campaign, educating all visitors on the scale of the energy problem in the UAE, and its impact on the environment. It will also contain a very tangible, rational message stating how many Dirhams per year could be saved by making some very simple changes in behaviour to conserve energy with the conviction that action, no matter how small, will collectively make a difference.

The website also boasts a ‘carbon calculator’ that shows the energy and financial savings of measures such as turning up the air conditioning by a few degrees, using energy saving light bulbs and turning off household appliances. Specifically developed for UAE households, the calculator demonstrates that these measures could reduce annual bills for the average two-bedroom home.

“No matter where we are from, we can all be heroes of the UAE – taking action against climate change in our everyday lives is important as it will affect countries all over the world. Today, I am pledging to reduce my energy consumption, and hope that everyone living in this country will also do their bit to protect the planet,” H.E. Bowardi continued.

‘Heroes of the UAE’ will eventually target the private sector and the government. As H.E. Majid Al Mansouri, Secretary-General of EAD emphasised at the launch, the campaign’s success will depend on widespread support from individuals, civil society groups, businesses and the government. H.E. Al Mansouri went on to say,

“We are delighted to partner with EWS-WWF for ’Heroes of the UAE’, a campaign that highlights one of the most critical issues of our time. According to our State of Environment Report, Abu Dhabi’s electricity demand has surged in the past 10 years from 1,766 MW to 4,320 MW. Moreover, the UAE’s per capita electricity consumption is around 28.131 kilo watts, ranking it among the largest energy consuming countries in the world!,” said H.E Al Mansouri

“In addition sectoral data reported by EAD (2006) for the Abu Dhabi’s cogenerative power and water plants indicates that 13.5 million tons of gases and particulates – 36% of Abu Dhabi’s total emissions– are produced each year of which CO2 accounts for 99.65%. Thus water production, transmission and use in Abu Dhabi is intricately linked to greenhouse gas emissions because of its reliance on fossil fuel energy for desalination, pumped distribution, and water treatment,” he added.

The UAE has the highest per capita Ecological Footprint in the world, meaning that residents here consume far more natural resources than their equivalents in other countries. At the same time, it also stands to face some of the harshest impacts of global warming, such as hotter summers, scarcer freshwater, more extreme weather and rising sea levels.

‘Heroes of the UAE’ has already gained support from the Ministry of Environment and Water, the Ministry of Energy, ADWEA, Masdar and the Abu Dhabi Media Company, demonstrating the already substantial commitment to creating a more sustainable UAE. The children who helped launch the campaign were from year five of the Emirates International School – Meadows.

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Wednesday, February 18- 2009 @ 11:14 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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