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Petaling Jaya, Shah Alam among top cities in WWF’s Earth Hour City Challenge 2015

SEOUL (April 11): Petaling Jaya (PJ) was awarded the first ever title of Malaysia’s National Earth Hour Capital in the recently concluded WWF’s Earth Hour City Challenge (EHCC). PJ stood out with its strong efforts on low carbon and energy efficiency. The PJ city council’s initiative to tackle a diverse range of areas and its innovative approaches to ensure public participation were also commended by the international panel of judges.

The WWFEHCC competition ran from May 2014 to March 15, 2015. The green conscious challenge saw the participation of 163 cities representing 16 countries to promote renewable energy. PJ and Shah Alam were among the 44 cities that were shortlisted in the final list.

The cities were chosen based on their efforts to create more sustainable, resilient cities while competing for the coveted
‘green’ title. The objective is for these  cities to move towards the goal of 100%
renewable energy and address local climate problems by implementing practical measures that improve air quality, protect water supply and reduce urban flooding.

Accepting the award on April 9 were the Petaling Jaya acting deputy mayor Ahmat Mohayen Said and Department of Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing director Lee Lih Shyan at the Earth Hour City Challenge 2015 Award ceremony held in South Korea. Shah Alam was awarded the Special Mention category for displaying strong efforts for waste, mobility and raising awareness. The city’s budget allocations for the execution of adaptation and mitigation-related measures to combat climate change were also highly praised.

Among the initiatives lauded in the two Malaysian cities were the implementation of tax rebates for green measures in residential properties, the provision of a public park and ride facilities, the introduction of electric charging for hybrid vehicles, the environmental friendly measures of recycling cooking oil as low grade fuel and tree planting, which have marked Shah Alam as Malaysia’s most sustainable city in 2013.

The other National Earth Hour Capitals included Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Córdoba, Spain; Evanston, the US; Gothenburg, Sweden; Hatyai, Thailand; Jakarta, Indonesia; Lahti, Finland; Montería, Colombia; Paris, France; Puebla, Mexico; City of Singapore, Singapore; Thane, India; Tshwane, South Africa and Vancouver, Canada.

Seoul, South Korea was awarded the title Global Earth Hour Capital 2015. They city impressed an international jury of experts with its comprehensive approach to tackling climate change and its determination to ramp up use of renewable energy. Cape Town, South Africa achieved the honour last year and in 2013, Vancouver, Canada was the first city to be awarded the title.

Seoul’s approach to radically reduce emissions includes allocating a realistic budget for increasing the use of solar power by residents, reducing transport emissions through greener fuels, building more bus lanes and encouraging car sharing programmes. Seoul serves as a role model for fast-growing cities in a rapidly developing Southeast Asia.

An ambitious initiative by the city to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 million tons and to achieve 20% electricity self-reliance by 2020 won high acclaim from the jury.

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