MAYORS USE EARTH HOUR TO LEAD ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION
FRIDAY 15 MARCH 2013, SINGAPORE: From Sydney to Brasilia, San Francisco to Kuala Lumpur, Brussels to Boston, mayors and governors 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 healthier, cleaner and more livable cities. 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 mobilise 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 combatting 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 (UTC -8). 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. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel is setting a high bar for local governments with its ambitious climate action plan and work engaging citizens about citywide efforts to reduce emissions and prepare for climate change.
“The work we are doing builds economic strength and environmental health today and ensures Chicago’s quality of life over the long term,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “From investments in energy efficiency and clean energy to public transportation and bike friendliness, we will continue to enhance Chicago’s sustainability.”
Following the line of huge environmental outcomes of 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 that will be adopted this year to minimize damage to the environment. The flagship of those measures, "Brasilia, City Park" aims to recover spaces across the federal capital to be transformed into parkland.
"Our goal is to deliver 72 parks to their rightful owners, the people. There are already 35 of these projects underway and we are aiming for 72 by 2014, leading to more green areas of Brasilia,” he announced. Queiroz has also pledged to turn the lights of for Earth Hour in the city center of Brasilia including the Cultural Complex, Library and National Museum, Cathedral, Ministries esplanades and JK Bridge.
“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 using the ‘I Will If You Will’ challenge platform to not only encourage buildings in the city to switch off for Earth Hour next week, but to also promote 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 on Saturday, March 23 at 8:30PM.
"My challenge to Kuala Lumpur is to cycle about 10km from my residential area, Bukit Tunku, to work. Therefore, Kuala Lumpur, if you want to watch me cycle to work, you have to switch off," he said.
The KLCC Towers have been one of the first buildings to accept his challenge.
Mayors from Antwerp, Brussels, Poland and Perth are among others participating in I Will If You Will. 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 at 8.30pm – 9.30pm on Saturday 23 March
See the Earth Hour 2013 Official Video at www.ehour.me/2013ViD
Press images from the global media launch can be downloaded at ehour.me/WmbuK8
Press images of Earth Hour can be downloaded at earthhour.org/media-centre/images
Downloadable video footage of the global event will be available in four B-rolls for media, covering major regions at earthhour.org/media-centre/videos
To join the global community head to:
• Earth Hour www.earthhour.org
• Facebook www.facebook.com/earthhour
• Twitter www.twitter.com/earthhour
• YouTube www.YouTube.com/EarthHour
• Google+ plus.google.com/+EarthHour
• Instagram instagram.com/earthhourofficial
About Earth Hour
Earth Hour is a global environmental initiative in partnership with WWF. Individuals, businesses, governments and communities are invited to turn out their lights for one hour on Saturday March 23, 2013 at 8:30 PM to show their support for environmentally sustainable action. In 2013, Earth Hour’s I Will If You Will concept invites individuals and organisations to challenge others to an ongoing environmental commitment beyond the hour. Earth Hour began in one city in 2007 and by 2012 involved hundreds of millions of people in 152 countries across every continent, receiving reports as ‘the world’s largest campaign for the planet’.
WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organisations, with almost five million supporters and a global network active in more than 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.