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The city of Seoul has been awarded the title Global Earth Hour Capital 2015.
The city’s approach to radically reducing emissions includes actions such as allocating a realistic budget for increasing the use of solar power by residents, reducing transport emissions through greener fuels, and building more bus lanes and car sharing programs.
Seoul serves as a role model for fast-growing cities in a rapidly developing Southeast Asia, as well as for the rest of the world. An ambitious initiative by the city to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 million tons and to achieve 20 per cent electricity self-reliance by 2020 won high acclaim by the jury.
“There are no limits to the challenges we face in combating climate change and preserving the world’s natural systems and resources. Cities play an important role in setting the world on a sustainable development track powered by renewable energy, and Seoul is an inspiring example of a city that takes this challenge seriously,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International.
Seoul was recognized with a special mention in last year’s Earth Hour City Challenge and this year succeeds previous winners of the award Vancouver, Canada and Cape Town, South Africa.
The scalability of Seoul’s actions highlights the potential and importance of moving from model projects to large scale implementation. The progress being made by cities like Seoul should serve as examples for national leaders when they convene later this year for global climate negotiations in Paris.
WWF’s Earth Hour City Challenge saw participation from 163 cities representing 16 countries. Cities were evaluated by their level of ambition and innovation for low carbon development in relation to local circumstances.
The EHCC jury selected Seoul as the Global Earth Hour Capital after a shortlist and final review of the 16 national winners. National Earth Hour Capitals included Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Córdoba, Spain; Evanston, USA; Gothenburg, Sweden; Hatyai, Thailand; Jakarta, Indonesia; Lahti, Finland; Montería, Colombia; Paris, France; Petaling Jaya, Malaysia; Puebla, Mexico; City of Singapore, Singapore; Thane, India; Tshwane, South Africa and Vancouver, Canada.
“Seoul, a rising megacity in Asia and a recognized leader in local climate action, is a worthy winner of the Earth Hour City Challenge. The city consistently reports progress in achieving its climate targets and demonstrates that it has drastically cut its emissions. In doing so, they have demonstrated how cities are indispensable actors in fighting global climate change,” said Gino Van Begin, ICLEI Secretary General.
WWF worked closely with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability in mobilizing cities to join the challenge. ICLEI provided the use of its carbonn Climate Registry (cCR) as the reporting platform for the initiative. The Swedish Postcode Lottery is the main financial partner.
As part of the Earth Hour City Challenge, the city of Balikpapan, Indonesia was recognized as the Most Loveable City for 2015.
Balikpapan was one of 47 green city finalists selected through the social media platform We Love Cities. More than 200,000 people who truly love their cities and want to see them become more sustainable voted in the contest.
The We Love Cities campaign engaged citizens around the word to express their love through votes, tweets, Instagram pictures and by submitting suggestions on how their cities can be more sustainable. These improvement suggestions will be shared with the participating cities.