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Chicago, Cincinnati, San Francisco Globally Recognized for Citywide Efforts to Address Climate Change

Cities vying to be named WWF’s 2013 Earth Hour City Capital

WASHINGTON, DC – Chicago, Cincinnati and San Francisco have been selected as global finalists in World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour City Challenge, a year-long challenge rewarding cities that are preparing for increasingly extreme weather and promoting renewable energy. The cities were chosen by WWF and global management consultancy Accenture for actively taking steps to transition their communities toward a climate-friendly future.

The U.S. challenge recognizes leading cities for their efforts to curb carbon pollution and prepare their communities for the harmful consequences of climate change. One city will serve as the 2013 U.S. Earth Hour City Capital, and qualify for resources to advance local climate readiness efforts. Nearly 30 local governments from across the country are members of this year’s inaugural group of Earth Hour City Challengers.

“We are highlighting the best and brightest ways cities are keeping their communities one step ahead of the climate-driven changes and extreme weather we are all experiencing,” said WWF-US Director of International Climate Policy Keya Chatterjee. “These cities really have put in place some of the most forward-looking, locally-oriented measures in the U.S. and are truly global leaders in addressing climate change.”

The 2013 U.S. Earth Hour City Capital will be announced in February and will then compete with cities from Canada, India, Italy, Norway, and Sweden for the title of Global Earth Hour Capital. For the designation as Earth Hour Capital, each of the 17 global finalists’ climate programs are being evaluated by an international panel of experts in climate policy and sustainable development.

“The Earth Hour City Challenge clearly demonstrates that cities are on the front lines of responding to climate change,” added Chatterjee. “These local governments have set ambitious development plans, improved local public transportation systems and committed to reducing carbon emissions to improve their citizens’ quality of life while simultaneously reducing their impact on our planet.”

About the Finalists:

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago 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 city’s work to improve the resilience of its public transportation system to extreme heat and urban flooding, as well as its efforts to transition the city to renewable energy sources stand out among the nation’s best climate-smart programs. Chicago holds the top spot among U.S. cities in the deployment of some key climate strategies including the installation of more than 5.5 million square feet of green roofs and the largest urban solar electricity generation plan (10 megawatts).

“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.”

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati is developing a power aggregation agreement that would make it the largest city in the U.S. to supply its energy entirely from renewable sources and committing to reducing carbon emissions two percent annually for 42 years. The city is also working with residents, businesses and community leaders throughout the city to adopt climate-smart policies; expanding current tree planting efforts, promoting metro ridership, educating students about sustainability and conducting energy audits for local non-profits.

“In Cincinnati, we have been aggressively pursuing a wide range of strategies to combat climate change and shift to renewable energy,” said Cincinnati Mayor Mark L. Mallory. “Our electric aggregation deal allows all of our citizens to receive 100% renewable energy. Cincinnati has become a national leader in green energy and we are going to continue to lead by example."

San Francisco, California

San Francisco is institutionalizing climate action across the board, making it one of the first U.S. cities to require all city departments to produce climate action plans. Throughout the year, the city compiles and processes data on each department’s progress to reduce the use of energy, vehicle fuel, water and associated greenhouse gas emissions. Their dedicated Climate Team coordinates with the departments to use this information to make informed decisions on how to further cut emissions and conserve resources. The City already supplies 100 percent of its municipal power from renewable sources, and is developing a community choice aggregation program, CleanPowerSF, which will provide participating businesses and residents with 100 percent renewable power starting in late 2013.

“San Francisco is thrilled to be chosen as a U.S. finalist for the Earth Hour City Challenge,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “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. San Francisco looks forward to participating in the Earth Hour City Challenge, and we congratulate our fellow finalists, Chicago and Cincinnati, for their environmental stewardship.”

About World Wildlife Fund

WWF is the world’s leading conservation organization, working in 100 countries for nearly half a century. With the support of almost 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. Visit www.worldwildlife.org to learn more.

Media Contact: Chris Conner, 202-495-4786