The Earth Hour City Challenge initiative was created by WWF to celebrate cities that are taking amazing steps forward in creating a greener, cleaner and more sustainable city to live in, while inspiring other cities to do the same.
Of the 14 Swedish towns and cities which entered the Swedish competition, three made it to the final: Gothebyrg, Eskilstuna, and Västerås. This week Gothenburg was announced as the winner.
The city, which is the second-largest in Sweden, won the title for its ambitious and innovative climate strategies, green-conscious plans, and efforts to decrease residents' consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions.
"Gothenburg impressed the jury with ambitious climate goals, both long and short term," Håkan Wirtén, general secretary of WWF, said in a statement about the decision. "The city has begun measuring its footprint on the climate, and it is a role model which can inspire others to do the same."
Gothenburg plans to reduce its consumption based carbon footprint from 8 to 3.5 tons per capita by 2035, and has already come a long way. The City of Gothenburg has worked with business Region Göteborg on a Green Gothenburg campaign, and the projects include energy-efficient trucks, hybrid electric buses, smart systems for district heating, and climate-smart city distribution.
The city of course cannot force residents to behave in a more climate-friendly manner, but they do believe that having the infrastructure in place will help. Even small steps make an impact.
"Today we serve vegetarian food once day a week at all of the schools," Svante Sjöstedt, responsible for the environmental administration of Gothenburg City, said.
"It has much less impact on the climate compared to beef, for example. How we live, what we eat, and how we travel are all important for us to successfully handle the climate adjustment."
Gothenburg was awarded the prize at a conference on March 17th in Stockholm.
"Through collaboration with academic institutions and with a departure point in scientific fact, Gothenburg is creating conditions for development of innovative ideas with economic potential. The big picture including emissions, stragies, and interventions goes hand in hand with large investments in climate measures per person," the jury explained, calling Gothenburg a "true leader" when it comes to combatting climate change.
The national winners, including Gothenburg, now have the chance to compete for the title of global Earth Hour Capital. The leading cities will be presented in Seoul, South Korea at the ICLEI World Congress on April 9th.