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Under the slogan "Kick the Carbon Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy" the world celebrated World Environment Day (WED) - which aims to spread awareness about environmental preservation. This year's theme urges people to cut down on activities that increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
WED has been celebrated annually on June 5 since 1974, organized by the United Nations (UN). The date recalls the opening day of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in1972, which led to the establishment of the United Nations Environment Program.
The day's agenda is to give a human face to environmental issues. It aims to empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development; and to promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes, said the United Nations.
"Our world is in the grip of a dangerous habit," said Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of UN. "Coal and oil paved the way for the developed world's industrial progress. Fast-developing countries are now taking the same path in search of living standards. Meanwhile, in the least developed countries, even less sustainable energy sources, such as charcoal, remain the only available option for the poor," reported Ki-moon.
He said that our dependence on carbon-based energy has caused a significant build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. "Last year, the Nobel Peace Prize-wining Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change put the final nail in the coffin of global warning skeptics. We know that climate change is happening, and we know that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that we emit are the cause."
The implications of global warning are profound. Ecosystems – from mountain to ocean, the poles to the tropics – are undergoing rapid change. Low-lying cities face inundation, fertile lands are turning to desert, and weather patterns are becoming more unpredictable.
"The cost will be borne by all, but the poor will be hardest hit by weather – related disasters and by soaring prices for staple foods, but even the richest nations face the prospect of economic rescission and conflicts over diminishing resources,'" said Ki-moon, adding that mitigating climate change, eradicating poverty and promotion economic and political stability all demand the same solutions. "We must kick the carbon habit which is the aim of WED of this year."
"We often need a crisis to wake us up to reality. Businesses and government are realizing that, far from costing the earth, addressing global warming can actually save money and invigorate economies. While the estimated costs of climate change are incalculable, the price tag for fighting it may be less than any of us have thought. Some estimates put the cost at less than one per cent of global gross domestic product – a cheap price indeed for waging a global war," elucidated Ki-moon.
Ki-moon pointed out the message of WED in 2008 which is “we are all part of the solution.” Whether you are an individual, an organization, a business or a government, there are many steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint.
"WED is an important occasion to stop and think about the environment and our actions." said Ms. Pratibah Mehta, Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative of UNDP.
"The effects of climate change are grave and growing. Increased exposure to drought, intense storms and floods are all holding back the efforts of the poor to build a better life. If we do not jointly act to fight climate change challenges, tomorrow not only the poor will be bearing the effects."
Yemen, like any other developing country, is facing a number of environment challenges, including water scarcity, biodiversity loss, habitat degradation, and urban expansion over agricultural land. Climate change challenges will likely aggravate these problems, if measures are not taken early enough, explained Mehta.
She explained that the Yemeni government has a strong commitment towards environmental protection in general. It is heavily promoting investment in Clear Development Mechanisms (CDM) and also has established an adequate institutional structure and procedure for CDM review and approval.
The celebration of WED under the slogan of the global reduction of carbon and its direct relationship with plastic bags is evidence of the level of our environmental awareness, said Sumoal al-Lahebi, Commercial Manager of Dar Al-Ashraf International Group.
Al-Lahebi talked about the effects of plastic bags and how they damage the environment. "After use, they are collected and re-grinded at plastic bag factories so they can be used again. The waste from these bags is recycled and melted to produce new plastic bags. This is not considered illegal if these wastes are added in small quantities to the main raw materials and does not cause any bad effects or deformation."
"The black plastic bags are more dangerous and can seriously affect humans and the environment. The components of these plastics are Pheny1 Chloride, Polyethylene and 2 percent of carbon – which are components linked to cancer," explained al-Lahebi.
Our main target for this campaign is to get rid of these plastic bags and educate people about the dangers of using such bags, said al-Lahebi.
WED aims to ensure all nations and peoples to enjoy a safer and more prosperous future. People should be aware of the environment and try to protect it for their children’s’ sake.