The Earth Hour City Challenge (EHCC)
The Earth Hour City Challenge (EHCC)
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In a Nutshell:
With over 70% of global CO2 emissions generated by residents in cities, the Earth Hour City Challenge mobilizes action and support from cities in the global transition towards a climate friendly one-planet future. The challenge invites cities to report ambitious commitments, big win climate actions, and co-benefits in relation to food, water and energy security challenges.
Where and When:
The EHCC is a global initiative and has been running on an annual basis since 2013. To date the Challenge runs in 21 countries including Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Finland, France, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, United States, and Vietnam
Over half the world’s population now lives in cities. Moreover, urban populations are expected to double from 3,5 billion currently to 6 billion by 2050. Thus, over the next four decades, humanity will be building as much urban infrastructure as we have built so far throughout history. The global footprint of cities is daunting. Both directly through urban sprawl, but even more indirectly through consumption. Urban dwellers’ growing appetites for food, goods and energy services put increasing pressure on the world’s land, waters and climate. Over 70% of fossil fuel related CO2 emissions today are generated by residents in cities.
The Earth Hour City Challenge is a unique initiative designed by WWF to mobilize action and support from cities in the global transition towards a climate friendly, one-planet future, and to stimulate the development and dissemination of best practices for climate mitigation and adaptation. It is run as a recurrent and increasingly global challenge for cities to present ambitious, holistic, inspiring and credible plans for low carbon development and for dramatically increasing the use of sustainable and efficient renewable energy solutions in the next few decades.
The Challenge invites cities to: Demonstrate accountability through public ambitious climate commitments and transparent reporting of climate data (for example becoming a Compact of Mayors signatory). Report inspiring, big win climate actions, in terms of GHG reductions as well as the co-benefits they provide in relation to food, water and energy security challenges. Cities’ are encouraged to also report ambitious, cross-cutting and inclusive actions in need of funding, and may also register such actions under the Transformative Actions Program platform (TAP) – a cooperative initiative designed to scale up direct investments in subnational governments’ climate actions. The EHCC builds on the understanding that cities in different parts of the world have different roles in the transition towards a climate- friendly, one-planet future. The EHCC aims to highlight diverse solutions and challenges for cities in different parts of the world, but also to identify options for more networking and collaboration between these cities. This also builds on the understanding that all cities will ultimately face similar challenges in securing human needs in a carbon constrained world
Cities are invited to report relevant data, plans and actions via an internationally recognized carbon reporting platform for cities, Carbonn Climate Registry, cCR, managed by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability. Outreach and support to cities is provided in collaboration with ICLEI and the final plans and data reviewed by an international jury of urban experts (including representatives from the Asian Development Bank, C40 Cities, ICLEI, The World Resources Institute, The Indian Institute for Human Settlements and UN Habitat). To formally become an EHCC candidate a city needs to report the minimum level of at least one mitigation action and one commitment. After cities report their data, it is analyzed by an external consultant and the top 1-3 cities with the most promising actions from each participating country are selected and shortlisted as finalist cities. The international jury then reviews the finalist cities’ development plans for building, transport, energy and food systems – solutions that will make a city greener and cleaner and improve living standards for residents. From a first meeting, the jury selects the most ambitious finalist cities as national capitals. To become selected as a finalist, a city needs to demonstrate, either through commitments, actions or inventories, that it is undergoing a real transition toward a renewable and sustainable economy. The more ambitious, credible, strategic and innovative a city’s approaches are, the greater its chances are of being selected as a national Earth Hour Capital. A second meeting involves the jury making a deeper-level analysis of the national capitals from which the Global Earth Hour Capital is chosen. Finalist cites are celebrated through national media campaigns and the process culminates in an international award ceremony for the national and global capitals. The national and global Earth Hour Capitals continue to be celebrated and promoted through social media, web, films, conferences.
Thus far the Earth Hour City Challenge has involved over 300 cities since its inception in 2013. For the last round of the City Challenge (2014-15) 166 cities reported over 400 climate commitments and 2,500 climate mitigation and adaptation actions. A major impact of the EHCC, besides attracting cities to start reporting their climate data publically on cCR, is the increase in the overall reporting of climate actions. For example, in the 2014-15 round of the EHCC the participating cities represented about one-third of all cities reporting on the cCR, but as much as 60% of the reported climate actions. Magnified by WWF’s social media campaign We Love Cities (www.welovecities.org), the availability of information on cities’ climate action plans has greatly increased public participation in and support for such action in participating cities.