The $70 million programme is designed to catalyse efforts to tackle climate change in US cities
Albuquerque, Austin, Denver, Orlando and San Antonio are the final winners named in Bloomberg’s American Cities Climate Challenge.
The $70 million American Cities Climate Challenge was launched in June 2018 and sets out to catalyse 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.
The final five join the cities of 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, DC.
All of the cities take part in a two-year acceleration programme 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. These are two areas that are on average responsible for 80 per cent total of all citywide emissions and over which mayors have significant authority.
“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.”
“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”
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 maximise community buy-in.
Austin will use the support to cut emissions in the transportation sector by advancing innovative incentive programmes to encourage sustainable commuting, implementing new parking management and pricing programmes to reduce vehicle emissions, and working directly with local car dealerships to increase electric vehicle (EV) 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 programme.
San Antonio will use the support and resources to meet electricity demand for municipal operations from 100 per cent renewable sources, increase the number of EVs in the city fleet and expand the number of charging stations citywide. It also plans to reduce energy consumption in municipal and private buildings through deep energy retrofits and building energy benchmarking and disclosure programmes, as well as improve transit experience by developing a plan for a modern, multi-modal transportation system that can be implemented across the city.
"The five new winning cities’ ambitious climate action plans focused on reducing air pollution and citywide emissions from the transportation and buildings sector"
Albuquerque will develop a solar energy field to provide service to the City of Albuquerque government operations and achieve 100 per cent 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 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 prioritise safety for walking and biking, as well as offer incentives to increase public transit ridership.
Orlando will 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 programme to drive energy efficiency performance and encourage the decarbonisation of existing buildings, as well as develop new incentives to encourage high-performance green building development. Finally, Orlando will expand community solar programmes 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.
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