Pune, Rajkot and Thane are among the three Indian cities that will compete to bag the title of Global Earth Hour Capital in WWF’s Earth Hour City Challenge (EHCC) 2015. A total of 50 cities from across 17 countries have entered the final round. The three Indian cities will also be competing with each other for the title of National Earth Hour Capital. Coimbatore was named as the National Earth Hour Capital in 2014.
All the three finalist Indian cities this year - Pune, Rajkot and Thane - have made progressive efforts in adopting renewable energy and promoting initiatives that contribute to building a sustainable city. These cities have been evaluated based on individual accomplishments and demonstrated actions that can contribute to a sustainable future.
Pune, one of the largest metropolises in India, has displayed a strong commitment to low carbon and sustainable initiatives to its credit. It is the first Indian city to adopt Eco-Housing programme under which Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has launched a rating programme for green buildings and encourages developers to adopt the Eco-housing assessment criteria to certify the environmental performance achieved by their residential project. A Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP) is another major initiative that evaluates non-motorized as well as mass transport options in Pune. Taking into consideration the city’s growth after 30 years, various options for traffic management such as pedestrian paths, bus rapid transit (BRT), tram, monorail and metro etc. have been envisaged in the plan to improve mobility and strengthen the public transport in the city. A dedicated Energy Saving Cell has also been established to guide energy projects. Pune also has a number of programmes on energy efficient lighting and effective waste management.
Similarly, the city of Thane has developed focused actions on aggressive renewable energy targets, energy efficiency and multiple solar energy projects. The city has made the use of solar water heating system mandatory for municipal buildings. Besides, wind-solar hybrid systems, solar PV for lighting & air-conditioning are being implemented. In addition to these, solar roof top net metering based power generation is also planned. Other actions include implementation of traffic management and energy efficient street lighting.
The city of Rajkot has also demonstrated aggressive low carbon targets towards 2016. Some of the major initiatives include a BRT project and the first phase is now complete. The city has established a state funded Energy Park that exhibits different non-conventional energy sources and acts as an information centre for documentation and dissemination of renewable energy based information. Various sustainable waste management practices of the city include total ban on prohibited plastic, formation of debris squad and creating a sakhi mandal of unskilled and unorganized workers that not just gives them employment, but also makes the city clean. There is also a thrust on energy efficient street lighting.
WWF works closely with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, in mobilizing cities to join the challenge and enabling their reporting through carbonn Climate Registry (cCCR). After an initial evaluation by WWF and global consultancy Accenture, an expert jury will appoint one city from each country as the Earth Hour National Capital. The jury will then present the Global Earth Hour Capital Award to one city amongst these finalists. Cape Town, South Africa was declared as the Global Earth Hour Capital in 2014.
The evaluation process for all the finalist cities is under process. The winner - Global Earth Hour capital - will be declared in Seoul, South Korea at the Earth Hour City Challenge Awards Ceremony in April 2015. The finalist cities will also be participating in a public campaign called ‘We Love Cities’ where people can vote for their favourite cities. The campaign will be launched soon.
An initiative of WWF, the Earth Hour City Challenge which was launched in 2011, felicitates and awards initiatives by cities for their climate resilient actions to stimulate best practices for footprint reduction. The platform also aims at inspiring and supporting cities to become solution hotspots for building sustainable cities. India became part of EHCC in 2012 and was the first developing country to join this initiative. Participation from Indian cities has expanded over the three years, from six in the first year to 13 this year.
Read more about ICLEI South Asia’s EHCC activities.