WWF-Canada Blog:

Earth Hour City Challenge: Working Smart and Working Together for a Greener Planet

On March 27, WWF will announce the 2014 global Earth Hour Capital from 14 finalist cities around the world – including Edmonton, our newly-appointed National Earth Hour Capital.  We congratulate all 11 cities from across Canada that participated in this year’s Challenge. Here are some actions they’re taking that are worth celebrating! 

Sustainability isn’t always easy. Creative thinking is often needed to figure out ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cut down on energy use, and otherwise limit the negative environmental impact of our actions. Three Canadian participants in the 2014 Earth Hour City Challenge—WWF’s global green city contest —have their thinking caps on. With their citizens, they’ve created plans, goals, and visions for the best ways to be greener today and into the future.

A light rail transit train, powered by wind-generated electricity and part of the public transit system, rushes over a bridge in Calgary

© Michael Buckley / WWF-Canada

In Calgary, Alberta, more than 18,000 citizens contributed to the imagineCALGARY project. That made it, at the time, the largest community visioning and consultation process of its kind world-wide. The resulting 100-year vision captures what Calgarians want their city to be over the next century and how to make it happen. Importantly, the plan views the city as a large, inter-connected system and addresses everything from buildings to trees to history. There are 114 targets in five main categories: environment and infrastructure system, economic system, governance, the natural environment, and the social system. To make sure the community stays involved and can have an impact, companies and organizations can highlight their projects here.

In British Columbia, Vancouver, has developed an action plan to become the greenest city by 2020. This, like imagineCALGARY, was a collaborative effort; more than 35,000 people from around the world participated online, through social media, and in face-to-face workshops or events. More than 9,500 people, mostly Vancouver residents, actively contributed what they want and feel emotionally connected to in a city, especially biodiversity, access to nature, recreation, and water conservation. The city has already made progress towards many of the plan’s goals, including reducing city energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in existing buildings.

In Québec, Montreal has summed up its sustainability efforts with the phrase “Together toward a sustainable metropolis.”  This means that every citizen must do his or her part to make Montreal a sustainable city. The city, along with partner organizations, is currently implementing its Community Sustainable Development Plan 2010-2015. A key goal of the plan is reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 compared with 1990. Montreal proposes to achieve this in part by opening recharging stations for rechargeable electric and hybrid vehicles, reinstating the tramway system, and doubling the cycling network. Citizens are encouraged to become ecoMontréalers, and organizations can become partners in the 2010-2015 Plan.

So what can we learn from the efforts of these three cities?  Working together works! Whether its to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or decrease other harmful impacts to the planet, citizen action and involvement is key.  So join us! On March 29th, you can encourage action on climate change no matter where you live: be part of Earth Hour!