Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced a $70 million commitment in support of U.S. mayors who are leading efforts to address climate change.
Announced on the one-year anniversary of the Trump administration's statement that it would withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, the American Cities Climate Challenge is aimed at accelerating progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions while growing local economies. The initiative will select twenty cities whose mayors have demonstrated strong leadership in moving America forward on meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement — a 26 percent reduction in emissions from 2005 levels — to participate in a two-year program designed to deepen the impact of their climate change efforts.
To that end, each "Leadership City" will receive a package of technical assistance and support valued at more than $2.5 million, including funding for a climate advisor who facilitates the development and passage of high-impact policies; data, design, and innovation resources to help city officials develop and deliver programming; leadership development support; implementation coaching; rapid-response grants to accelerate the impact of mitigation activities; and peer-to-peer learning and networking opportunities. Partner organizations in the initiative will be led by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Delivery Associates.
The hundred most populous U.S. cities are eligible to apply, but only if their mayors have signed the We Are Still In declaration by June 19, 2018. To be selected, cities must demonstrate a track record of addressing climate change and a deep ambition to use the next two years to accelerate their climate change efforts. The program will focus on the transportation and building sectors, which typically total 90 percent of citywide emissions and are areas over which mayors have significant authority.
"Mayors don't look at climate change as an ideological issue," said former New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Climate Action and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies. "They look at it as an economic and public health issue."
The American Cities Climate Challenge also will support the America's Pledge initiative, which is co-chaired by Bloomberg and California governor Jerry Brown and helps coordinate public and private-sector efforts to track progress on climate action.
"Cities across America are on the front lines of climate change — their residents are feeling the heat and watching the floodwaters rise around them," said NRDC president Rhea Suh. "This challenge will empower America's cities to pursue innovative policies and programs to cut their carbon pollution."