Albuquerque, Austin, Denver, Orlando and San Antonio are the final of twenty-five winning cities to be awarded resources and technical support to help achieve their ambitious climate goals
The Climate Challenge is designed to deliver on America’s Pledge and help keep the United States in the Paris Agreement
TEXAS – Today, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action Michael R. Bloomberg joined Austin Mayor Steve Adler and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg in Austin and San Antonio, respectively, to announce Albuquerque, Austin, Denver, Orlando and San Antonio as the final winners in Bloomberg’s American Cities Climate Challenge. These five cities complete the twenty-five total winning cities in the challenge, joining the twenty others previously announced: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, Saint Paul, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle, St. Louis, St. Petersburg, and Washington, D.C.
Launched in June 2018, the American Cities Climate Challenge is a $70 million program designed to catalyze efforts in 25 cities to tackle climate change, promote a sustainable future for residents and help deliver on the America’s Pledge initiative to keep the United States in the Paris Agreement. Albuquerque, Austin, Denver, Orlando and San Antonio join the twenty other winners in a two-year acceleration program that will provide powerful new resources and access to cutting-edge support to help meet or beat their near-term carbon reduction goals.
At events in Austin and San Antonio, Bloomberg highlighted the five new winning cities’ innovative and ambitious climate action plans that focused on reducing air pollution and citywide emissions from the transportation and buildings sectors – two areas that are on average responsible for 80% total of all citywide emissions and over which mayors have significant authority. Bloomberg recognized Mayor Steve Adler and Mayor Ron Nirenberg at the events, as well as Mayors Keller, Hancock, and Dyer, for their commitments to ambitious climate action and for safeguarding healthier environments for each city’s residents.
“Washington has been trying to drag us backwards, but America really is moving forward on climate change as cities continue to lead where Washington hasn’t and won’t,” said Bloomberg. “It’s great to see Albuquerque, Austin, Denver, Orlando and San Antonio step up and meet our Climate Challenge with ambitious plans for tackling carbon emissions, and we’re glad to support them as they build healthier and stronger cities.”
Each Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge winner is provided robust technical assistance and a support package valued at up to $2.5 million to help them achieve their carbon reduction goals. Resources include a philanthropy-funded team member to facilitate the development and passage of high-impact policies, training for senior leadership to assist with implementation of their proposed climate plans, and citizen engagement support to maximize community buy-in.
“Austin is fighting hard to mitigate climate change, from investing heavily in wind and solar energy production, to approving a 100-year strategic water plan that conserves precious resources,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said. “And as a winner of the American Cities Climate Challenge, we’ll go even further to reduce emissions and promote a healthier environment for our residents.”
Austin will use the support from the Climate Challenge to cut emissions in the transportation sector by advancing innovative incentive programs to encourage sustainable commuting, implementing new parking management and pricing programs to reduce vehicle emissions, and working directly with local car dealerships to increase electric vehicle sales. In the buildings sector, Austin plans to perform energy efficiency retrofits and retro-commissioning in municipal buildings with high energy use. Additionally, the city will leverage data from existing energy benchmarking policy to increase participation in the Austin Energy commercial rebate program.
“The impacts of climate change are being felt across Texas, and this holds true for San Antonio as well,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “Over the next two years, Bloomberg’s American Cities Climate Challenge will help us fulfill our commitment to creating a more climate-resilient city and promoting cleaner air, lower energy costs, and green economy jobs for a stronger, healthier, and more equitable San Antonio for all.”
San Antonio will use the support and resources from the Climate Challenge to meet electricity demand for municipal operations from 100% renewable sources, increase the number of electric vehicles in the city fleet and expand the number of electric vehicle charging stations citywide. San Antonio also plans to reduce energy consumption in municipal and private buildings through deep energy retrofits and building energy benchmarking and disclosure programs, as well as improve transit experience by developing a plan for a modern, multi-modal transportation system that can be implemented across the city.
“City residents are on the frontlines of climate change—from heat waves and drought, to hurricanes and flooding,” said Rhea Suh, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the primary delivery partners for the Climate Challenge. “These mayors are not waiting on Washington to act. They know that—together—they can build a better future for our children. And that’s what they’re committing to do today.”
Along with Austin and San Antonio, the three other cities announced by Bloomberg today will work with Bloomberg and partners, including the National Resources Defense Council, to implement their climate-action plans and lower city-wide carbon emissions. Specifically:
Albuquerque will use its support to develop a solar energy field to provide service to the City of Albuquerque government operations and achieve 100% energy use from renewable resources by 2022. The city will also implement deep energy efficiency retrofits and retro-commissioning of municipal facilities, advance energy efficiency throughout the private sector, and transition light-duty municipal fleet to electric vehicles to help meet its goals.
Denver will focus on using resources and experts awarded through the Challenge to transform its EV market through an education and test-drive campaign and create utility incentives to encourage investment in EV charging infrastructure. The city is aimed at further reducing emissions from its transportation sector and will work to improve high-frequency transit lines, add new corridors of high-frequency public transit service, redesign streets to prioritize safety for walking and biking, as well as offer incentives to increase public transit ridership.
Orlando will be using Climate Challenge support and resources to add 150 EV charging stations throughout the city by 2020 and add more than 50 EVs to rental car fleets through innovative and strategic partnerships with Drive Electric Orlando and the Orlando Utilities Commission. The city will also transition more city fleet, including passenger vehicles and Downtown buses, to electric. Additionally, Orlando will pilot a new program to drive energy efficiency performance and encourage the decarbonization of existing buildings, as well as develop new incentives to encourage high-performance green building development. Finally, Orlando will expand community solar programs and grow other renewable energy projects in the city.
The Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge is part of the more than $200 million Bloomberg American Cities Initiative designed to help cities achieve critical near-term goals.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies works in 480 cities in more than 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2017, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $702 million. For more information, please visit www.bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.
About the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge
Recognizing that cities account for more than 70% of global carbon emissions, the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge was formed with an investment of $70 million to enhance the work already being done by mayors across the U.S. and to support cities in the fight against climate change. The Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge aims to go beyond the theoretical and scale up high-impact urban climate solutions that are already proven to succeed – specifically, from the buildings and transportation sectors. World-class partners for the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge will be led by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Delivery Associates. The Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge is part of Mike Bloomberg’s American Cities Initiative, a suite of more than $200 million in investments to strengthen city halls and advance critical policies.
By: Lee Cochran
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