Abu Dhabi: There may be a tremendous government push in the UAE towards greater sustainability, but it is individual responsibility that is still lacking, youth said in the capital today (October 5).

In fact, individuals receive very little support for their green ideas, said Salma Al Beloushi, an Emirati university student.

“We see so many companies and organisations promoting awareness about green practices, but people still use plastic bags over reusable ones, for example. And when they have ideas about environmental conservation, they still do not know how to implement these on a large scale,” Salma told Gulf News.

She was speaking in the capital after a forum held to address climate change measures that could be adopted at the upcoming Paris Climate Conference in December (COP 21). The forum, which was organised by renewable energy company Masdar, included a discussion by leading climate change experts, and was attended by more than 100 students from various schools and universities in Abu Dhabi.

According to Masdar, the aim is to engage youth so that they develop a commitment towards fulfilling goals set at the COP 21 and future climate conferences.

Salma said that UAE authorities have already taken major steps towards environmental sustainability ahead of COP 21, such as the establishment of solar plants, and a dedicated renewable energy company like Masdar.

“It is now individuals who need to take these efforts forward. Local celebrities need to promote green ideas, and work with government organisations to bring about positive changes in behaviour,” she suggested.

Sachin Nilesh Bhatia, a Grade 12 pupil from India, also recommended that companies provide greener alternatives.

“For example, people may not adopt reusable bags unless supermarkets provide adequate incentives to do so,” he said.

Bader Mohammad, an Emirati student pursuing a masters in Sustainable Construction at the Masdar Institute, said forums such as these help youth stay abreast of measures required to limit climate change. Mohammad was a moderator at the event, and said awareness about the COP 21 is especially important as it could generate global political momentum towards climate control.

Other young attendees said that the event was an inspiration for them.

“The experts stressed the fact that young people hold the solutions towards making the world more sustainable, and this is a real encouragement for us to look for alternative, workable solutions,” said Julia Grifferty, a Grade 12 pupil from the United States.