7th Car Free Day 2016 Press Conference

7th Car Free Day 2016 Press Conference

With the announcement of the 7th Annual Car Free Day for the 21st of February 2016, organized under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Crown Prince of Dubai, the Director General of the Dubai Municipality His Excellency Eng. Hussain Nasser Lootah reaffirmed the intentions of the City of Dubai to be the Number 1 environmentally friendly city in the world.  This goal will be achieved by adopting innovative sustainable solutions to the environmental challenges facing Dubai, particularly air pollution and global warming impacts caused by the increasing emissions from cars.  The implementation of real and effective community participation from various sectors is essential for the success of this initiative.

Inspired by the commitment of the Emirate of Dubai towards innovation in sustainability,  Eng. Hussain Lootah launched the Car Free Day initiative for the first time in 2010, providing all of the needed factors for its success.  From its early beginnings, this initiative has grown substantially each year, highlighted in the 6th Annual Car Free Day held on the 4th of February 2015 by the participation of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council and a large number of important community leaders.  The government as a whole widely supported this initiative,  actively encouraging people to use public transport instead of private cars to reach their workplaces. We now have the huge responsibility to take this initiative further in all ways possible to achieve the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (may Allah protect him) to be the most sustainable in all areas of our society, and sustain this behavior.

Lootah pointed out that this initiative is the first of its kind in the region.  Car Free Day confirms to all stakeholders globally and locally the administration’s commitment to the relevant international environmental conventions including the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (Kyoto Protocol), which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This commitment has been taken up very well by Dubai, as exemplified by the nature and size of the growing participation from various governmental and non-governmental sectors, and the environmental achievements attained through implementation of the initiative.   Furthermore, the initiative directly contributes to achieving the objectives of the National Agenda 2021 in the field of preservation of air quality and reduction of carbon footprint, as well as the objectives of Expo 2020, which is based primarily on the concept of sustainability and promotion of a  sustainable transport system for the Emirate.

Evolution of the Initiative:

Regarding the evolution of the initiative, the Director General of the Municipality explained that Car Free Day has grown significantly over the past six years with the nature and extent of participation from various governmental and non-governmental sectors having increased markedly in parallel with a greater depth of community involvement.   The number of participating organizations in 2015 reached 300, compared with only two in the first event held in 2010.  Additionally, the 6th Annual Event achieved substantial environmental outcomes with nearly 30,000 personal vehicles left at home that day in favor of environmentally-friendly transport.  In 2010,  only 1000 cars were left at home. Overall,  the 6 days of this initiative since 2010 have contributed to the reduction of an estimated 140 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.   Also, as this number of CO2 reductions is increasing annually from this event, it reflects the increased level of awareness and participation by society.

It is worth mentioning that this growing participation and positive environmental results is a strong indication of the increasing social responsibility being exercised by many people and entities across the Emirate.  This  important outcome will surely contribute to strengthening the gains in the field of environmental protection and sustainability of the natural resources in the Emirate for future generations.

Engineer Hussain Lootah noted that the Dubai Municipality has set a target for participation of 1000 organizations during  seventh Annual Car Free Day on February 21, 2016.    Targeted organizations are from various sectors such as: education, development, retail, hotels, banks and people with special needs.  Additionally, the scope of the initiative has been broadened from “Car Free Workday” to “Car Free Day”.  Furthermore greater emphasis is being placed this year for the government and society in the Emirate to keep up with the latest global practices, and to adopt sustainable solutions to the growing challenges witnessed by the Emirate’s environment in general and the growing carbon footprint, especially resulting from the sector road transport.

Measuring positive impacts of the initiative:

Regarding measuring the environmental benefits of the initiative, Engineer Alya AlHarmoudi confirmed that the Dubai Municipality is setting up several special instruments to measure the concentrations of air quality indicators and noise levels in different areas of the Emirate before and after the initiative to determine the environmental results achieved through the implementation of the initiative.

The Director of  the Environment Department stated that the initiative has a clear role in reducing the effects of climate change, which is one of the most serious environmental phenomena faced by governments at the global and regional levels.  Climate change is reflected  by an increase in temperature levels from normal levels, more frequent and severe weather events, and a rise in sea level globally, amongst  many other negative repercussions.  The focus on car use reduction is vital since  vehicles are considered one of the most important sources of the greenhouse gas emissions which cause this phenomena, making up to 15 – 20% of these emissions worldwide.

It is worth mentioning that one vehicle emits approximately 140 kg of carbon dioxide into the air from a single fuel full tank size of 60 liters.  The total amount  of emissions of carbon dioxide emitted from one vehicle per year is about 4 tons.

The Car Free Day initiative plays a vital role in the reduction of global warming because it contributes to the reduction of the amount of fuel burned to power vehicles.  As well, given that thousands of vehicles are stopped on the day of the initiative, this also reduces the consumption of fuel, a non renewable resource needed for the operation of vehicles.  Thus, the benefits of this initiative is also in the  conservation of natural resources through the reduction of  fossil fuel usages.  The reduced amount of fuel used in the operation of vehicles for all of the Car Free Days combined is an estimated 147 000 liters.

 

What’s new in the Seventh Car Free Day:

For the seventh edition of the initiative in 2016, the Director of the Environment Department confirmed that  it will not be limited to a specific day of  the year, which was the case over the past six sessions, but will be extended to multiple days in cooperation with various strategic partners in the Emirate.  This shift is in keeping with the vision of His Excellency Director General of the Municipality to move the initiative «Car Free Workday to «Car Free Day» in Dubai with a new slogan “ not a day … every day“.   This approach will enable the many government  and non-government  bodies in Dubai to adopt and implement the initiative on days which may differ from the official date .  This will facilitate participation of the largest number of entities and achieve greater results in reducing carbon emissions and reduce traffic congestion, and maximize the various positive results of the initiative.

Also, she noted that for the first time this initiative includes an extensive marketing campaign for a period of three weeks from today’s date until the date of implementation on February 21, 2016.  The Marketing campaign will focus on:

  • Awareness and definition of the initiative to stimulate the adoption by everyone
  • Raising the level of environmental awareness towards environmental issues, particularly air pollution from vehicle emissions.

 

Engineer Alya noted that this year a special website for this initiative was launched. It can be accessed at www.dm.gov.ae, the Dubai Municipality website, where individuals and entities can register to participate in Car Free Day. Any inquiries about Car Free Day can be directed to us by email at carfreeday@dm.gov.ae.

The Director of the Environment Department was pleased to announce that the accompanying exhibition for the seventh initiative will include the biggest exhibition of eco-friendly vehicles (hybrid and electric).  The Exhibition will look  more glamorous and be held in a new location, with a wider and distinct quality.  It revolves around three major themes: environmentally friendly vehicles, which rely on alternative fuel sources, such as solar energy, electric or biofuel; a section showcasing the latest technologies and practices and achievements related to air quality; and a third section which displays technologies, initiatives and achievements related to the preservation of natural resources. As a support to innovation, an eco friendly car made by students from the Petroleum Institute will be presented in the exhibition this year.

The Director of the Environment Department also confirmed that the initiative will witness a wide participation from volunteers either as individuals or entities, including those that participate in volunteer work organizations such as the WWF.

In conclusion, Engineer / Alya AlHarmoudi, Director of the Environment Department at Dubai Municipality has appealed to all segments of society to embrace the spirit and objectives of the initiative either individually or on an institutional level.  She is expecting a strong and positive community response through a reduction in the use of personal vehicles to reach to their work sites and to use any possible eco friendly means such as mass transportation or car pooling .  Together we can contribute to reduce the carbon footprint of the Emirate and promote environmental gains for present and future generations, not just for “ a Day…Everyday”.

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