Launched last summer, the Climate Challenge is a $70 million program focused on accelerating efforts by U.S. cities to address climate change and promote a sustainable future for their residents. Part of Bloomberg Philanthropies' 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 a package of technical assistance and support valued at $2.5 million to help them achieve their near-term climate action goals.
Albuquerque will use the support to develop a solar energy field that powers municipal government operations; implement energy efficiency retrofits and retro-commissioning of municipal facilities; advance energy efficiency across the private sector; and transition light-duty municipal fleets to electric vehicles (EVs). In Austin, the grant will support efforts to cut emissions by advancing incentive programs for sustainable commuting; provide energy efficiency retrofits and retro-commissioning in municipal buildings with high energy use; and leverage data from existing actions to increase participation in its commercial rebate program. Denver will focus on reducing emissions from its transportation sector by expanding the local EV market through an education and test-drive campaign as well as incentives; improving high-frequency transit lines and adding new corridors of high-frequency public transit service; and making streets safer for walking and biking.
Orlando will add a hundred and fifty EV charging stations to its grid and EVs to rental car fleets; transition more city vehicles and buses to electric; pilot a program aimed at encouraging energy efficiency and decarbonization of the local economy; and expand community solar programs and other renewable energy projects. And San Antonio will use the support to transition its municipal operations to 100 percent renewable sources; increase the number of EVs in its fleet; expand the number of charging stations citywide; reduce energy use in municipal and private buildings through retrofits and benchmarking; and develop a plan for a modern, multi-modal transportation system.
"Austin is fighting hard to mitigate climate change, from investing heavily in wind and solar energy production, to approving a hundred-year strategic water plan that conserves precious resources," said Austin mayor Steve Adler. "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."