WASHINGTON, DC (January 26, 2015) – Cleveland, Evanston, and Seattle are finalists in World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour City Challenge, a year-long challenge recognizing cities responding to the threats of climate change and reducing their carbon footprint. The cities were chosen by WWF and global management consultancy Accenture for transitioning their communities toward a climate-friendly future.
One of these cities will serve as the 2015 U.S. Earth Hour City Capital and receive funding from WWF to advance local climate readiness efforts. Over 40 local governments from across the country are members of this year’s group of Earth Hour City Challengers.
“The Earth Hour City Challenge showcases cities leading the climate fight,” said Lou Leonard, WWF vice president, climate change. “Each of these cities are taking innovative, impactful ideas to scale and represent the engines for implementing new climate targets set by President Obama. Their work supports healthy environments and strong communities while contributing to global efforts to reduce carbon pollution.”
The 2015 U.S. Earth Hour City Capital will be announced in February and will then compete with finalist cities from 16 other countries across WWF’s network for the title of Global Earth Hour Capital. All told, more than 160 cities participated this year. For the designation as Earth Hour Capital, each of the country finalists’ climate plans are being evaluated by an international panel of climate policy and sustainable development experts. Actions to promote renewable energy are prominently featured in this year’s challenge.
Also beginning today, WWF is asking citizens in the US and around the world to show their support for these cities by participating in the We Love Cities campaign. For the next eight weeks, web visitors are invited to vote for their favorites among the finalist cities, and to share what they love about these cities via photos and videos. The public is also welcome to submit suggestions for how the cities can become even more sustainable.
“While climate change is a global threat, its impacts will be most severely felt at home in our own cities and towns. We also know that 70 percent of emissions globally come from cities. The 2015 City Challenge finalists are showing how and acting now to reduce our impact on climate change and responding to those impacts we can’t avoid. As international leaders look to ratchet down global carbon emissions in advance of this year UN climate talks in Paris, they should look toward these cities for inspiration.”
About the Finalists:
The City of Cleveland is striving to build “a green city on a blue lake.” Under Mayor Frank Jackson, the city is building a reputation among its peers for innovative and ambitious climate action. The city has been an active participant in the Earth Hour City Challenge from the program’s beginning in 2012, when it won the Earth Hour Climate Leadership Award and support from WWF for its Mayor’s Sustainability Summit which brought together over 500 Clevelanders for two days to guide the city’s green initiatives. This year, Cleveland is working with WWF on “Solarize Cleveland,” a program to bring rooftop solar to residents around the city and county.
“I am pleased that the City of Cleveland is being recognized as an Earth Hour City Challenge finalist for our greenhouse gas reduction targets. We see climate action as a key way to position Cleveland for the future as we transition to a more sustainable economy.”
Evanston is on its way to reaching its goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 20 percent by 2016, a goal built upon Evanston’s success with their Climate Action Plan, adopted in 2008. Since then, Evanston has secured a 100 percent renewable energy program for all homes and small businesses, has set sustainability standards for new buildings, and installed solar panels on its water treatment facility. This year, Evanston is focusing on reducing transportation-related emissions by increasing bicycling infrastructure, education, and outreach, in addition to launching a bicycle share program across the community.
“Sustainability is more than just saving energy—it means creating and maintaining a livable, healthy and efficient community accessible to all residents,” said City of Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl. “We are honored to be a part of the Earth Hour City Challenge, along with Seattle and Cleveland. No matter the outcome, we are all winners in the sustainability movement.”
The City of Seattle has long been a leader setting the bar for how cities can be great places to live while respecting their natural environment. Seattle has set an ambitious commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050. To achieve this goal they have developed a comprehensive climate action plan that emphasizes actions within transport, buildings and waste. By 2020 they aim to reduce emissions from the city fleet by over 40 percent, equivalent to reducing 1 million gallons of fuel consumption annually. Seattle is already sourcing nearly 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, but is still working to improve energy efficiency through innovative policy solutions and public private partnerships. One example is the Seattle 2030 District which aims to dramatically reduce environmental impacts of building construction and operations, and to showcase the positive business case for sustainable buildings.
“This recognition is an affirmation that Seattle is on the right path towards sustainability,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Our residents and businesses understand that a climate friendly community is also a more prosperous and healthy community. We are responding to climate change today so that our city is well-positioned for the future.”
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.