Dubai: As the Earth Hour clock struck 8.30pm on Saturday night, thousands of people across the UAE turned off their home and office lights as a symbolic show of unison for the environment along with 177 other countries around the world.
Held in partnership with Earth Day organisers Emirates Wildlife Society-World Wildlife Fund in the UAE, government and private events were well attended from Abu Dhabi and Dubai to Sharjah.
The push behind Earth Hour was to limit global temperature increases below 1.5 degree Celsius in the latter half of this century by embracing strategies that reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
In Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Municipality switched off its lights and organised a candle walk on Al Bateen Beach while Yas Mall hosted a three-hour event that dimmed the lights.
Other venues such as Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi celebrated Earth Hour with what it called The Big Picnic, featuring food truck stations, games and activities and glow sticks when the lights went out.
In Sharjah, Sharjah Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA), in collaboration with Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (Sewa), organised an event at Al Majaz Waterfront that included a themed wall graphic, selfies, educational workshops, audience competitions, entertaining clowns, glowing T-shirts and other educational brochures.
Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) held its Earth Day event at Bay Avenue Park on Saturday which included an Earth Day walk as well as a variety of cultural and heritage activities.
The event was held for the ninth consecutive year in a row in line with the directives of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council.
When the lights went off, observers carried environmentally-friendly candles made of honey, wax, and soya.
Saeed Mohammad Al Tayer, vice-chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and managing director and CEO of Dewa, said that in cooperation with the Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence (DCCE) Dewa launched the Carbon Neutral Initiative to neutralise all carbon emissions during Earth Hour. This was achieved by adopting the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) across all Dewa’s projects based on the Kyoto Protocol, which is directly linked to the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change. Dewa also launched its ‘Shine a light on Climate Action’ campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of the increasing effects of climate change, and to emphasise the importance of the rational use of electricity and water.
“Dubai was the first Arab city to participate in Earth Hour in 2008, to support and incubate initiatives and events that promote public awareness on environmental issues and the sustainable development of the UAE, the region,” said Al Tayer. “We are proud of the community’s participation in this annual event, and how much energy consumption levels have been reduced by over the years. This supports the long-term Green Economy for Sustainable Development initiative ... and enhances its position as a global hub for trade, finance, and green economy, creating a sustainable future for the emirate. Earth Hour 2016 also adheres to the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to transform the emirate into an international hub for clean energy and green economy, making Dubai the city with the lowest carbon footprint in the world by 2050.”