Cape Town crowned Global Earth Hour Capital 2014

Submitted by: Nadia Shah, Wednesday, April 2, 2014

<p>The City of Cape Town was recently awarded the title of Global Earth Hour Capital for 2014. (Image Source: <a href="http://www.123rf.com/photo_13340294_victoria-and-alfred-waterfront-as-the-hot-summers-sun-sets-behind-table-mountain-and-the-night-light.html">softfocusphotography / 123RF Stock Photo</a>)</p>

The City of Cape Town was recently awarded the title of Global Earth Hour Capital for 2014. (Image Source: softfocusphotography / 123RF Stock Photo)

The honour of Global Earth Hour Capital 2014 was awarded to the city of Cape Town last week at a ceremony hosted by last year’s winners, Vancouver (Canada) in recognition of its ambition and pioneering long term efforts to combat climate change. "We are overjoyed that Cape Town has been selected from among so many great cities striving to create attractive, smart cities while tackling a multitude of urgent environmental and social challenges. We know we have a lot more work to do and the Earth Hour City Challenge is a great way for our city and our community to be inspired to continue moving forward,” said Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille.

The Competition

The Earth Hour City Challenge is a recurring year long competition held by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in partnership with The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) that aims to promote action and support from cities in the global transition towards a climate-friendly future. Applicants were required to upload their commitments, and climate mitigation and adaptation actions to ICLEI’s  carbonn Cities Climate Registry (cCCR), the reporting platform for the initiative.

163 cities from 14 different countries entered the competition this year, among them six South African cities. Durban and Cape Town surpassed Johannesburg, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and East London to be short listed as semi-finalists. Cape Town went on to be named one of 14 finalists. In the final round of the competition, Cape Town impressed an international jury of experts, beating Chicago (USA), Copenhagen (Denmark), Mexico City (Mexico), Seoul (South Korea) and Stockholm (Sweden) to clench the title.

A Deserving Win

In a joint statement, ICLEI’s Secretary General, Gino Van Begin and Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said, “Cape Town is a worthy winner of the Earth Hour Capital 2014 prize and is especially notable for being the first city from the south to receive this prestigious award. This achievement clearly demonstrates the important contribution emerging economies can make in the fight against climate change. The city and its leaders deserve congratulation for their great work.”

Cape Town’s achievement acknowledges its many efforts to reduce its carbon emissions and contribute towards a sustainable future for the planet. The city has spearheaded renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives for government as well as the commercial and residential sectors. These initiatives include large scale municipal building and street lighting retrofit projects, a solar water heating program and an Energy Efficiency Forum aimed at businesses. Cape Town has also made efforts to address energy poverty through studies on illegal electrification in informal settlements and its plans to address  energy efficiency in low income housing. In addition the city has launched the Smart Living Program, Electricity Savings Campaign and a Non-Motorised Transport Plan.

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