Dubai goes green for Car Free Day

Published February 5th, 2017 - 06:00 GMT
Dubai's Car Free Day encourages drivers to leave their vehicles at home in support of the environment. (AFP/File)
Dubai's Car Free Day encourages drivers to leave their vehicles at home in support of the environment. (AFP/File)

For every resident who ditches their personal vehicle on Sunday, the Dubai Municipality will donate a sum of money to charity and for planting trees, a top official said. 

As the municipality is gearing up for its 8th Car-Free Day on February 5, donations will be raised this year to mark the Year of Giving.

Through the initiative, launched in 2010, the civic body 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, in an attempt to reduce carbon emission and environmental pollution.

Khalid Badri, Director of Corporate Marketing and Relations at the municipality, told Khaleej Times that the initiative has so far recorded 1,700 government and private entities, up from 1,070 organisations last year, reaching out to over 241,000 employees this year.

"Even if out of the 240,000 employees, only 40,000 ditched their cars on the day, we would be making an achievement," he said.

While the municipality previously announced it will give cash corresponding to savings in carbon emissions per vehicle to mark the Year of Giving, Badri said the donations will be handed out based on the number of people who will participate instead.

"In this way, we will ensure higher numbers of donations collected to bring about more benefit to the society," said Badri, noting that part of the money raised will be donated to charity organisations and the rest will fund planting trees across the emirate to balance out carbon emitted by vehicles.

However, the amount that will be donated per person was not mentioned.

Starting with only two organisations in 2010, Car-Free Day has seen other governmental departments and ministries joined the drive over the years.

Last year, 43,000 vehicles of officials and employees from 1,070 organisations were kept at home, compared to 1,000 vehicles left behind in the first year of the initiative when only two organisations participated.

The municipality has offered cooperating with entities, encouraging them to hold similar initiatives on more days. Three other entities had already held their own car-free day.

Al Badri said parking spaces at the municipality headquarters and different centres across the emirate will be closed on the day. The civic body urged participating entities to follow the same lead.

Impact of a day with no car

Car-Free Day has had a significant impact on the environment.

Alia Al Harmoudi, Director of the Environment Department, said since its inception in 2010 until 2016, the initiative saved 263 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission where a total of 91,900 cars were kept at home from 2010 until 2016.

Last year, carbon dioxide emission saved was 125 tonnes, compared to 85 tonnes' emission-saving recorded during 2015.

Each vehicle, with a full tank fuel size of 15 gallons, emits nearly 140kg of carbon dioxide into the air.

Al Harmoudi said in 2016, the number of accidents reported on the car free day was also fewer than the other days of that week.

An exhibition will be held alongside initiative, displaying environmentally-friendly vehicles, which run on alternative fuel sources, whether solar or electric power or biofuels.

Register for the Car-Free Day

Individuals are welcome to register through the municipality's site www.dm.gov.ae. Residents can also join social media channels at #DubaiCarFreeDay or email: carfreeday@dm.gov.ae.


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