Abu Dhabi: If saving the planet is not reason enough for you to embark on an environmental mission, then take into consideration some serious cash savings that could make your efforts worthwhile.
"Save the planet and save money while you are at it. Simple actions such as switching off the lights whenever possible or opting for showers rather than baths could help the environment and simultaneously cut utility bills," Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, managing director of Emirates Wildlife Society - World Wide Fund for Nature (EWS-WWF) told Gulf News.
The EWS-WWF with the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi kicked off a nationwide campaign on February 17 called Heroes of the UAE.
It aims to reduce energy consumption by reaching out to the public.
UAE residents are the fifth largest per capita consumers of energy in the world, seven times higher than the global average.
Warning of an ecological credit crunch if the situation remains unchanged, Razan said: "If we do not mobilise the masses on the environmental mission then we are compromising the future of our children."
But she admits change will be slow to come.
The campaign's interactive website www.heroesoftheuae.ae, helps residents get started on their mission through pledges. It also allows calculation of tangible savings in terms of energy and money.
Gulf News spoke to the managing director about the campaign.
Gulf News: Tell us about the Heroes of the UAE campaign.
It is a national campaign urging people to reduce their energy consumption, and in doing so, help lower the UAE's ecological footprint and participate in global efforts to tackle climate change.
Aimed at people of all ages and backgrounds, the campaign emphasises that by following our simple energy saving tips we can all be heroes and make a positive contribution to combat climate change and safeguard the environment for our children's future. Moreover we can also save money by taking these actions.
How much money can one save?
Annually one could save up to Dh2,200. The figure is an average calculation and in some cases people will make much greater savings than we highlight.
The savings are generated by following all the energy-saving tips from the campaign, which can be found on our site.
We established baseline consumption figures for different households by using published data on energy consumption. The potential savings are calculated using a tariff rate of Dh0.24 per kilowatt hour for a 200 square metre property. This is the average tariff for a Dubai expatriate resident.
The tariff rate can be considerably higher for managed properties, similarly if you live in a larger property, or have high energy consumption habits you could save considerably more than we suggest in our energy saving tips.
We have also assumed that the average household will take two showers per day instead of baths.
Why was energy conservation chosen to be the focus of the campaign?
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 through impacts such as hotter summers, scarce fresh water, more extreme weather and rising sea levels.
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.
The largest component of our footprint arises from carbon dioxide emissions, mostly related to energy consumption.
What led to the idea behind the campaign?
The idea is straightforward. The response we require must be at a mass level across the country. If this does not occur, then we are compromising the future of our children.
Our message is that saving energy provides you with a great win-win-win opportunity to protect the environment, avoid the looming energy crunch and save money.
No matter who you are or where you are, at school, the office or at home, we can all take action in our everyday lives to save energy and help alleviate these problems.
How can you actually mobilise and engage people?
Changing the behaviour of a nation will not happen overnight and it will take a long-term commitment to ensure the changes are sustained. We aim to do this by raising awareness of the environmental and energy problems the world and the UAE face, relating these issues to personal lifestyles of the residents and providing people with simple actions.
Thanks to the UAE carbon calculator that has been developed for the first time, people can calculate their household carbon footprint and then make pledges to carry out simple actions that will help them save energy, money and reduce their carbon footprint.
The website will show how many people have made pledges so you can see an emerging community that is united for a single cause and realise that collectively our actions do make a big difference.
Once people have made the pledges, how would you ensure that they would remain committed?
By demonstrating a growing community movement on our website, we hope that people will be inspired to join and pledge to reduce their energy consumption.
Once people register online and pledge, we will also send them reminder emails to ensure they follow through on their pledges. There will also be real life examples of community support via case studies.
How would you gauge the success of the campaign?
Firstly via energy pledges as this will show the amount of energy in real terms that people are committed to saving by following the energy saving tips within the campaign. This will be calculated as a financial saving as well.
Tell us about the motto of the campaign.
The motto - A Sustainable UAE Every child's right - was developed to engender a sense of responsibility amongst society about the need to take action and live more environmentally friendly lifestyles for the sake of our children.Click here: Heroes site
The website for the 'Heroes of the UAE' campaign is www.heroesoftheuae.ae.
It will help residents get started on their 'mission' by pledging. It also allows calculation of tangible savings in terms of energy and money by inputting data.