San Francisco Named Earth Hour Capital
In recognition of San Francisco’s comprehensive efforts to promote renewable energy and prepare its residents for extreme weather and other consequences of climate change, an international jury has named the city U.S. Earth Hour Capital for 2013. As part of this honor, the city will receive World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour Climate Leaders Award and $30,000 to support its work engaging San Franciscans around climate impacts on the city’s future.
An international jury, which included top leadership from CDP, ICLEI, C40 and the UNFCCC, selected San Francisco from among 29 U.S. communities participating in WWF’s inaugural Earth Hour City Challenge. Globally, 66 local governments from six countries, including the U.S., joined the City Challenge to share their efforts to transition their communities toward a climate-friendly future.
Numerous U.S. cities participating in the Earth Hour City Challenge are already taking steps to prepare for the significant health and economic consequences of climate change such as poorer air quality, dwindling water supplies, stronger storms and higher risk of urban flooding. Chicago has paved 55 acres of its alleyways with permeable pavement that allows water from heavy rainfall to seep into the ground. Tucson has a team assessing how to reduce the city’s vulnerability to increased drought, water scarcity and extreme heat. And Miami is collaborating with Miami-Dade County to map areas at greatest risk of inundation from sea level rise.
Ultimately San Francisco inched ahead of fellow U.S. cities because of its ongoing efforts to institutionalize climate action across the board, both by preparing for impacts and quantifying and reducing carbon emissions from its buildings, vehicles and other sources. The city already supplies 100 percent of its municipal power from renewable sources, and is developing a community choice aggregation program, CleanPower SF, which will provide participating businesses and residents with entirely renewable power starting in late 2013. The city is also implementing measures to limit salty bay water from overflowing into the city’s storm-water and wastewater systems as rising sea levels become an increasing problem for the coastal city.
“San Francisco is among global leaders working to keep local communities one step ahead of the climate-driven changes, such as increasingly extreme weather, that we are all experiencing,” said WWF’s Keya Chatterjee, director of international climate policy. “The city’s ambitious development plans, local public transportation improvements and commitment to reducing carbon emissions are some of the most forward-looking, locally-oriented measures in the U.S. today.”
San Francisco’s status as the Earth Hour Capital is unveiled just days before thousands of cities celebrate Earth Hour on Saturday, March 23 at 8:30 pm, local time. Cities, businesses and residents around the world will go dark as non-essential lights are switched off for an hour as a call for action on climate change and other environmental concerns. The City of San Francisco will celebrate by turning the lights out at City Hall and other municipal offices. Several businesses and landmarks will also go dark, including the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge.
Vancouver crowned Earth Hour Capital 2013. Press release from Earth Hour City Challenge, 19 March 2013.
World cities take the lead on essential climate action. Press release from Earth Hour City Challenge, 17 January 2013.
Earth Hour City Challenge: Edmonton, AB and Richmond, BC. Press release from WWF Canada, 17 January 2013.
World Cities compete for Earth Hour Capitals. Press release from ICLEI Global, 17 January 2013.
ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA. See ICLEI's In Hottest Year on Record, a Wake Up Call for Cities and Counties, a fact sheet on how 20 leading cities and counties experienced extreme weather and climate impacts in 2012, and how they are responding through climate adaptation.
- City of Atlanta to Participate in Earth Hour 2013. 22 March 2013
- Dirty Dishes and Climate Change: Taking a Small First Step Toward a Safer Future. 20 March 2013.
- San Francisco Named Earth Hour Capital. 20 March 2013.
- Landmarks across the world go dark to celebrate major environmental outcomes for Earth Hour. 20 March 2013.
- Millions Across the Globe to “Go Dark” for Earth Hour on March 23; San Francisco named 2013 U.S. Earth Hour City Capital. 19 March 2013.
- Vancouver Crowned Global Earth Hour Capital 2013 "for Its Innovative Actions on Climate Change. 19 March 2013.
- The Greatest American (Climate) Heroes . 5 March 2013.
- Chicago, Cincinnati, San Francisco Recognized for Citywide Efforts to Address Climate Change. 17 January 2013.
- Video introduction to WWF's Earth Hour City Challenge, 13 Sep 2012.
- Earth Hour 2012 Kicks-Off WWF City Challenge, 1 April 2012.
- Video: Arizona Public Media Interview with two Leaders of Tucson's Efforts to Address Climate Change , 30 March 2012,
- "Power to Prepare Tucson" Summit: Faced with more Extreme Weather, Citizens Engage in City's Climate Preparedness Efforts, 28 March 2012.
- International Panel Highlights “Climate Resilient Cities,” as Communities Mobilize for Changing Weather Patterns , 28 March 2012.
- Former EPA Administrator William K. Reilly: On Climate Change, Cities May "Save Us From the Ideological Gridlock in Washington,” 11 November 2011