Chicago Nominated for 2013 Earth Hour City Capital

A darkened downtown Chicago as it appeared in 2009 during the second annual Earth Hour Challenge.

A darkened downtown Chicago as it appeared in 2009 during the second international Earth Hour Challenge.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has selected Chicago as a finalist to be a “City Capital” in the annual Earth Hour City Challenge. Along with Cincinnati and San Francisco, Chicago was chosen by WWF and global management consultancy Accenture for actively taking steps to transition its communities toward a climate-friendly future.

One of those three cities will be announced this month as the 2013 U.S. Earth Hour City Capital 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 is a year-long effort rewarding cities that are preparing for increasingly extreme weather and promoting renewable energy. 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.”

For its nomination, WWF noted that 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. Chicago’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.”

“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.”

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.

Image: Justin Kern

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