Bloomberg Philanthropies has named St. Petersburg, Florida, as the twentieth city selected to participate in its American Cities Climate Challenge and announced that it is expanding the initiative to five additional cities.
Launched in June 2018, the Climate Challenge is a $70 million program focused on accelerating efforts by American cities to address climate change and promote a sustainable future for the people who call them home. Part of Bloomberg's American Cities Initiative, the two-year program builds on America's Pledge — an initiative to keep the U.S. in the Paris Agreement — and provides participating cities with resources and access to cutting-edge support designed to help them meet their near-term carbon reduction goals. Citing the strength of applications from cities across the country, Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and former mayor of New York City, announced the expansion of the program from twenty to twenty-five cities.
As part of the initiative, the City of St. Petersburg will receive a package of technical assistance and support valued at $2.5 million to help it achieve its climate action goals, including funding for a climate advisor who will facilitate the development of high-impact policies, training for senior officials to help them implement their climate plans, and support for citizen engagement efforts. In addition, the city will work with Bloomberg Philanthropies and other partners to launch the first equity-focused community solar program in the country, scale financing models for local energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives, and expand its residential solar co-op program.
"As a coastal city, the effects of climate change are more apparent than ever to the residents of St. Petersburg," said Rick Kriseman, the city’s mayor. "Through the American Cities Climate Challenge, we’re excited to expand our efforts to achieve our near-term emissions goals and make our city as healthy, safe, and climate-resilient as possible."
"With Washington asleep at the wheel, cities like St. Petersburg — that are taking bold action on climate change — are more important than ever to encourage even more bottom-up progress," said Bloomberg, who also serves as the UN secretary-general’s special envoy for climate action. "Tackling climate change goes hand in hand with improving public health and creating jobs, and it’s great to see cities leading where Washington won’t."