Earth Hour 2012 Kicks-Off WWF City Challenge

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Press release from WWF-US, 1 April 2012...

No foolin’: The City of Tucson was at the center of World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour celebration in the United States.

Around the world last night, millions of individuals switched off their non essential lights as part of the world’s largest symbolic environmental action. From the Eiffel Tower in France to the Ghirardelli Square sign on San Francisco’s Fisherman’s wharf, some of the planet’s most iconic landmarks participated.

This year, an estimated 150 countries and territories, and 6,494 towns and cities, took part in Earth Hour, as did an array of organizations in the US and around the world, including professional hockey teams and yoga studios.

As the lights went out over the Sonoran Desert, the City of Tucson joined with WWF to launch a new initiative called the Earth Hour City Challenge.

The global scale of Earth Hour is inspiring and captures our imaginations,” said WWF President and CEO Carter Roberts. “But to affect change we want need to harness the excitement surrounding Earth Hour and carry it beyond the hour. The Earth Hour City Challenge will create a healthy competition among cities to chart a course to a climate smart future and recognize those cities that are leading the way. I hope all Americans will join us in urging their communities to build sustainable and resilient cities.”

Climate change is not only about polar bears in the Arctic or marine turtles off the coast of Africa, it is affecting homes and communities across America--cities and towns that are on the frontlines of extreme weather and climate disruption, such as heat waves, wildfires, coastal storms and flooding. Last year, total losses from natural catastrophes in the United States amounted to $72 billion, one of the costliest years in history. Meanwhile, politicians in Washington have left these communities to fend for themselves.

Forward-thinking cities are taking up the challenge to prepare for these growing risks while building communities that use clean energy efficiently, taking practical steps to reduce urban flooding, protect limited water supplies, fortify coastal infrastructure from rising seas and fight back against extreme heat. Cities that take these steps may save future costs and lives, while attracting new businesses and residents and maintaining a high quality of life in this new and changing future.

The Earth Hour City Challenge provides a platform for showcasing action and inspiring cities to show the way towards a new future -- one that is sustainable and resilient in the face of a changing climate.

ABOUT EARTH HOUR CITY CHALLENGE
Cities competing in the Earth Hour City Challenge will be eligible for national recognition, technical assistance and financial grants. Applications may be submitted from June through November of this year, and winners will be announced in March of 2013. Individuals, businesses and community groups can write to their mayors directly from WWF’s website, to urge their representatives to apply.

ABOUT EARTH HOUR
Earth Hour is a global environmental initiative in partnership with WWF and Leo Burnett. Earth Hour began in one city in 2007 and by 2011 reached over 1.8 billion people in 135 countries across every continent, receiving reports as ‘the World’s largest campaign for the planet’.

Online Resources:

Thank Tucson Officials for Preparing for Climate Change.  Send a letter to Mayor Rothschild and the City Council thanking them for hosting the summit and engaging residents in how best to protect the community from increasingly extreme weather and other consequences of climate change.

Tucson Equipped to Offer Solutions in an Era of Extremes. By former Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt in The Arizona Daily Star, 29 March 2012.

City of Tucson, Office of Conservation and Sustainable Development

WWF Climate Change Blog:

WWF Earth Hour City Challenge: EarthHourCities.org

Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest United States: A Technical Report Prepared for the U.S. National Climate Assessment. Draft report by the Southwest Climate Alliance. The SWCA welcomes comments through 11:59 PM (PDT) April 11, 2012. The Southwest region icovers six states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.

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