WWF-Canada Blog:

Mayors are using Earth Hour to lead environmental action

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.”

Earth Hour peoples choice

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 USA. 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. 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,” said Carina Borgström Hansson, Lead of WWF’s Earth Hour City Challenge.

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. People can still cast their votes for the People’s Choice, which closes at midnight tonight. Both the Earth Hour Global Capital and the People’s Choice winner for the Earth Hour City Challenge will be announced on Tuesday, 19 March in Malmo, Sweden.

“Our City’s progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 14.5% below 1990 levels shows that it’s possible to have a growing, dynamic economy and lower our carbon footprint at the same time. We are taking further steps to cut emissions from energy use, transportation and waste,” said San Francisco Mayor, Ed Lee whose city is among the finalists.

One of the countries vying for the top honour, Vancouver was chosen as the Canadian winner, and will battle it out with the country finalists from India, Italy, the U.S., 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. In Vancouver we’re demonstrating that building a greener city fosters a strong local economy,” said Mayor of Vancouver Gregor Robertson.

Mayors from Chicago, Cincinnati, and Boston are also taking impressive steps to reduce the environmental footprint of their cities, encouraging shifts to renewable energy and providing incentives for citizens to reduce water consumption and use carbon neutral transportation.

The first mayor to ever support the Earth Hour movement, Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore is using Earth Hour to pledge their support for renewable energy.

“Recent heatwaves, fires and floods across Australia show that taking action to protect our environment is more important than ever,” she said. “Switch off for good this Earth Hour and switch on to renewable energy. Earth Hour started right here in Sydney, now people in 152 countries have embraced it. At the City of Sydney, we’re doing our part to slash pollution by investing millions of dollars in clean, renewable energy.”

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