Mayors step up to take the Earth Hour City Challenge

JK Bridge lights switch off in Brasilia, Brazil. (c) WWF Eduardo Aigner
JK Bridge lights switch off in Brasilia, Brazil.
(c) WWF Eduardo Aigner

Singapore – Mayors and governors from Sydney to Brasilia, San Francisco to Kuala Lumpur, Brussels to Boston and others from around the world, are showing political leadership and making sweeping changes to encourage citizens to address the critical environmental issues facing the planet.

CEO and Co-Founder of Earth Hour, Andy Ridley, says mayors are one of the most important figures in helping to create a sustainable future for the planet. “With more than 70% of the world’s carbon emissions coming from cities, mayors play one of the most crucial roles in helping to create creating, healthier, cleaner and more livable cities,” Ridley addes. “The steps that mayors are taking through I Will If You Will and the Earth Hour City Challenge shows just how impactful our actions beyond the hour can be.”

An initiative that mayors have been instrumental in championing is the Earth Hour City Challenge, which aims to mobilize action and support from cities in the global transition towards a climate-friendly future.

Six finalists were selected among the 66 participating cities from Canada, India, Italy, Norway, Sweden and the US. Cities were asked to present climate commitments, performance and actions for evaluation by the jury who were asked to pay particular attention to cities with holistic, inspiring and credible plans for low-carbon development.

“Combined, these cities have reported over a thousand mitigation actions, a large proportion of which include measures to increase the share of renewable energy,” said Carina Borgström Hansson, Lead of WWF’s Earth Hour City Challenge. “Through this initiative we hope to support and award more bold decisions by city leaders in combating climate change and securing both attractive and sustainable lifestyles for the rapidly growing number of urban inhabitants on our planet.”

In addition to the jury selection, WWF has invited the general public to voice their support for the sustainability actions of the 17 finalists in our People’s Choice campaign. The People’s Choice winner for the Earth Hour City Challenge will be announced on Tuesday, 19 March in Malmo, Sweden.

One of the cities vying for the top honour, Vancouver, was chosen as the Canadian winner (over the other finalist, Surrey), and will battle it out with the country finalists from India, Italy, the US, Sweden and Norway.

“Being named the Canadian winner of WWF’s Earth Hour City Challenge is a strong validation of our efforts to be the greenest city in the world by 2020,” said Mayor of Vancouver Gregor Robertson. “In Vancouver we’re demonstrating that building a greener city fosters a strong local economy.”

On the back of numerous environmental outcomes from the global Earth Hour movement in the last year, the governor of the Federal District of Brasilia, Agnelo Queiroz, officially announced a series of measures to revitalize his city’s parks and create a greener Brasilia.

“There are already 25 of these greening projects underway and our goal is to deliver 72 parks to their rightful owners, the people, by 2014,” he announced. “Adhering to this movement we feel committed to the future of the planet. We will make Brasilia one of the most sustainable cities in the country,” said Queiroz.

Across the planet, Mayors are also taking part in the I Will If You Will campaign to inspire their constituents to adopt sustainable practices in their daily lives. The mayor of Kuala Lumpur, Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal, is not only encouraging buildings in the city to switch off for Earth Hour next week, but also promoting the use of carbon neutral transportation in the city. He will be cycling to work on March 25 as part of his “I Will If You Will” challenge if 50 buildings in Kuala Lumpur participate in the lights off event.

Earth Hour 2013 will take place on Saturday, March 23 at 8:30 pm.

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