Earth Hour City Challenge: Getting Around Green

On March 27, WWF will announce the 2014 global Earth Hour Capital from 14 finalist cities around the world – including Edmonton, our newly-appointed National Earth Hour Capital.  We congratulate all 11 cities from across Canada that participated in this year’s Challenge. Here are some actions they’re taking that are worth celebrating!
We know we’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating: If every person in Canada took one day a month off from driving his or her car, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be the same as taking 200 thousand cars off the road every year. That’s a lot of cars. Transportation currently accounts for almost 25 per cent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Thankfully, there’s a lot that can be done to reduce that amount, especially when Canadians like you work with your cities and towns to make biking to work, taking public transit and driving electric vehicles, among other actions, a part of everyday life.

A woman cycling on a bicycle through city streets in business shoes and pants.
© / WWF-Canada

That’s the idea behind WWF’s Earth Hour City Challenge. Cities can redirect their investments and efforts from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and the City Challenge celebrates municipalities doing just that.
Greater Sudbury, Ontario, is committed to reducing transportation-related CO2 emissions by 1 tonne per capita by 2019. To meet this goal, Sudbury is creating a Bicycle Master Plan with Rainbow Routes to make urban cycling as easy and safe as possible. The city already has a Rack and Roll program on some public bus routes, significantly increasing the convenience of cycling and public transportation. If walking is more your style, you might like what’s going on in North Cowichan, BC. The municipality has committed to a 33 per cent reduction in GHG emissions by 2025 and an 80 per cent reduction in GHG emissions by 2050. To help achieve this, pedestrians will come first in the downtown of North Cowichan’s Chemainus community in an area where people walking have the right-of-way and cars are limited to 5 km/hr.
We all know that sometimes biking, walking, and public transportation are not enough to get the job done. That’s where electric vehicles can play a part in reducing the negative climate impacts of transportation. In Saanich, BC, the city will soon be completing a 3-year pilot study of all-electric zero-emissions Mitsubishi i-MiEV as city vehicles. It has recently installed 12 publically-available electric vehicle charging stations. Both efforts will help the municipality meet its 2020 target of 5,000 electric vehicles in the community. As a bonus, it is also reducing its carbon footprint at the local ice rink – switching up its propane powered Zamboni with an electric one and reducing GHG emissions by 10 tonnes annually!
Together, we’ve already made progress: In 2012, Canada more than doubled the number of electric vehicles on the road, up 4,000 from about 1,600. That’s a step towards WWF’s ambitious goal of 600,000 EVs on Canada’s roads by 2020. If Canadians continue to work with their governments to reduce everyone’s use of fossil fuels for transportation, it will be a big part of achieving the 80 per cent reduction in GHG emissions needed by 2050.
Participating in Earth Hour is another way you can show your commitment to a greener, cleaner planet. It’s coming up on Saturday, March 29th, so mark your calendars!