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Dubai to donate money saved by ditching cars on Car Free Day

Cash corresponding to savings in carbon emission per vehicle will be donated to mark Year of Giving

Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
Eng. Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director General of Dubai Municipality, along with Major General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri(left), Director General of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, (GDRFA) Dubai, and Khalid Shareef(right), Assistant Director General, Environment, Health and Safety control sector, Dubai Municipality, at the press conference to announce the activities of the eighth cycle of its green initiative, Car-Free Day at the Dubai Municipality Headquarters, Dubai.
Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai residents can support the needy by not driving their cars on Car Free Day on February 5.

Dubai Municipality will donate the money corresponding to the amount of carbon dioxide emission saved by keeping cars off the roads for a day, Hussain Nasser Lootah, director general of Dubai Municipality, said on Sunday.

Car Free Day is the civic body’s biggest environmental awareness campaign in which it urges officials and employees of government and private sectors to swap their cars for different modes of public transport to get to work for a day.

“Each vehicle, with a full tank fuel size of 15 gallons, emits nearly 140 kilogrammes of carbon dioxide into the air. Thus, the amount of total emissions [from a vehicle] annually would be about 4 tons, and these emissions contribute towards global warming,” Lootah said at a press conference.

“When the cars are off the road, it results in reducing carbon dioxide emission. Carbon emission can be offset with planting trees … Every tree is equal to money. We will be calculating the reduction in carbon emission and convert it into money and donate it to charity as this year is the Year of Giving,” he told Gulf News.

Some 30,000 vehicles belonging to officials and employees from 1,070 government and private organisations were off the road as part of the eco-drive in 2016. This year, Lootah said, the municipality is expecting a record 1,500 entities to join the initiative.

Though it was not clear how exactly the calculation of donation will be made, Lootah gave an example based on last year’s figures. “If you price each tree planted for a car off the road at Dh10, you can multiply the figure of 30,000 cars with 10 and it will be Dh300, 000. We will donate that amount to charity,” he said, adding that the municipality will also plant trees in support of the drive.

To make their participation and contribution count, participants have to register their details by clicking the Car Free Day tab on the municipality’s portal

According to Alia Al Harmoudi, director of the Environment Department, the carbon dioxide emission saved last year was 125 tonnes, an increase of 40 tonnes from 85 tonnes’ emission-saving recorded during the 2015 event.

Since its inception in 2010 till 2016, Car Free Day has had a significant impact on the environment, with a combined estimated savings of 140 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission, and 147,000 litres of fuel.

Lootah requested establishments to provide mass transport modes like buses to facilitate individuals to go to work and asked them to hold similar initiatives on more days. He added that the municipality would ask participating departments to close their parking lots like the civic body does on Car Free Day.

However, Major General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, director of Dubai General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners’ Affairs, which is participating in the drive, said the purpose was to persuade people to volunteer in joining the initiative, and not to force it upon them.