American Cities Climate Challenge Newest Winners Announced

October 26, 2018
American Cities Climate Challenge Winners

Credit: Bloomberg Philanthropies

UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg has named the next rounds of winning cities in the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge. Winning cities, of which half have now been selected, will be awarded with resources and technical support to help achieve ambitious climate goals.

Mayor Bloomberg joined Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto in West End Overlook Park on October 21 to announce Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington D.C. as the latest of winning cities. Just last week, in Los Angeles on October 17, Bloomberg joined Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) President Rhea Suh at the Griffith Park Observatory in recognizing Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and Portland as the second set of selected cities for the Climate Challenge. These cities join Seattle and Atlanta, which were announced in September.

“The response to our Climate Challenge was overwhelming,” said Bloomberg. “Cities all across the country put forward thoughtful and innovative proposals. Selecting the ones with the most ambitious goals – and the most realistic plans for reaching them – was not easy. With Washington asleep at the wheel, cities need to step up in the fight against climate change – and these cities are leading the way,” added Bloomberg.

Winners of the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge will be provided robust technical assistance and a support package valued at up to $2.5 million per city. World-class partners for the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge will be led by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Delivery Associates, providing winners with 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. Through the Climate Challenge – which is part of Bloomberg’s American Cities Initiative, a suite of more than $200 million in investments to strengthen city halls and advance critical policies – the winning cities are accepted into a two-year acceleration program that will provide cities powerful new resources and access to cutting-edge support to help meet or beat their near-term carbon reduction goals. Bloomberg highlighted the cities’ innovative and ambitious climate action plans for the Challenge, all aimed to reduce air pollution and city-wide emissions with specific projects to reform their respective transit and buildings sectors – two areas traditionally responsible for 80% total of all citywide emissions and over which mayors have significant authority.

In the first of two announcements over the past week, Bloomberg recognized Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, according to a news release for their commitment to ambitious climate action and securing a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment and economy for their residents.

“Leadership on climate change has always come from cities, because our residents can’t afford the costs of inaction and the consequences of delay,” said LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.

“The Paris climate agreement is a promise we made to our children—and we’re going to keep it,” said NRDC’s Rhea Suh. “The American Cities Climate Challenge gives cities the tools they need to lead the way. With cities generating the majority of the fossil fuel pollution driving climate change, and bearing the brunt of its impacts, fighting climate change begins in City Hall. These mayors are committed to delivering a brighter, more hopeful tomorrow for future generations,” she said.

The winning cities will work with NRDC and others to implement their plans, specifically in the following ways:

Los Angeles

Los Angeles plans to accelerate several of the City’s primary climate goals around emissions reduction and energy consumption, primarily through investments in sustainable transportation options and a decarbonized building stock. Specifically, the city will work with Bloomberg Philanthropies and partners to support the Twenty-Eight by ’28 initiative, the Metro NextGen Bus Restructuring effort, and MTA’s Ridership Initiatives; continue efforts to improve safety for people walking and biking; begin planning a fossil fuel free zone; and accelerate building clean energy transformation through standards, incentives and training programs.


Portland plans to use support from the Climate Challenge to reduce climate pollution in transportation and promote renewable energy use throughout the city, working to manage congestion by eliminating any growth in single-occupant vehicle trips in the Central City and expanding incentives that make it easier for all Portlanders to walk, bike or take public transport instead of drive. In working with Bloomberg Philanthropies and partners, Portland will additionally establish two community-based renewable energy projects.

San Diego

San Diego plans to utilize benefits to increase active transportation and transit use and propel the city to its 100% renewable energy goal.  Additionally, San Diego will work with Bloomberg and partners on the ground to: develop a comprehensive mobility application to make transit and active transportation an easier choice for San Diegans, incorporating community partners such as the local transit authority; amend the land use code to remove barriers to more carbon-friendly transportation choices and incentivize new housing developments near quality transit; and design and implement a 100% renewable energy program.

San Jose

San Jose plans to use support from the Climate Challenge to focus on turbocharging the implementation of Climate Smart San Jose. Specifically, San Jose will work with Bloomberg and partners to: develop and implement a shared electric-vehicle strategy, including education and incentives; implement high-priority segments for the City’s walking and bicycling network and the inclusion of new mobility options such as bike- and scooter-sharing systems; develop a roadmap to eliminate natural gas use in residential housing; and requiring solar and EV-readiness in new construction.


Pittsburgh plans to use support from the Climate Challenge to create and implement a benchmarking policy for buildings. Additionally, Pittsburgh will work with Bloomberg partners to develop and roll out a statewide clean energy financing program, scale renewable power through community solar programs, and expand bike and pedestrian infrastructure throughout the city.


Philadelphia plans to scale up energy efficiency projects across homes and the city’s largest commercial buildings through policies, programs, job training and other resources, as well as dramatically increase the generation and use of renewable energy by leading and supporting institutional clean energy procurement programs. In working with Bloomberg partners, Philadelphia will also work increase trips by bicycle, walking, and transit by 5 percent by 2025 or sooner through the implementation of Connect: Philadelphia’s Strategic Transportation Plan and accelerate transition of 6,000 municipal vehicles to electric, and work with SEPTA to electrify its fleet.


Boston plans to support further deployment of the Go Boston 2030 bike network and neighborhood slow streets traffic-calming program to create safe and stress-free walking and biking in the areas that need them most; introduce additional programs to reduce single-occupancy car use and support electric vehicle adoption to make low-carbon transportation the mode of choice for residents and commuters alike; provide Boston’s commercial and institutional buildings access to innovative project finance programs to improve their energy performance; help large buildings to benefit from existing energy performance incentives and cutting-edge technologies; and build workforce development programs and an energy resource center with an emphasis on serving low-income communities.

Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C. plans to use this support to jumpstart implementation of its Clean Energy DC plan –  the city’s roadmap to cut greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2032 – which was released in August. Bloomberg Philanthropies will work with the city to achieve by 2020: the development and launch of a building energy performance standard for large buildings to support the city’s goal of net-zero carbon buildings by 2050; launch of the DC Green Bank, aligning its new financing programs with existing strategies to incentivize energy efficiency and renewable energy and accelerate building performance improvements; and encouragement of residents and commuters to use alternative transportation by improving service, adding new mobility options, and expanding bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure.

In making the latest announcement on October 21, Bloomberg recognized Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser for their commitment to ambitious climate action and securing a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment and economy for their residents, according to the news release announcing the third round of winning cities.

Standing with Mayor Peduto, who plays a key role in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ upcoming National Geographic documentary, Paris to Pittsburgh, Mike also announced that mayors in select U.S. cities will join the conversation on local climate action by hosting screenings of the film on December 3, and convening community discussions on climate change. The screenings, which will be held in Charleston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, Orlando, and Pittsburgh, will emphasize the need for the bottom-up climate action strategies being taken by winners of the Climate Challenge.

“Pittsburgh is a city built on innovation. We’re so proud that we’ve done our part to uphold the Paris Agreement, and we’re ready to do even more,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. “With the American Cities Climate Challenge, we can expand our clean energy program not just in Pittsburgh, but statewide, and we’re ready to get to work.”

The Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge is a $70 million-dollar program that will accelerate 20 cities’ efforts to tackle climate change and promote a sustainable future for residents. World-class partners for the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge will be led by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Delivery Associates

The American Cities Climate Challenge builds on the America’s Pledge initiative, which aims to keep the U.S. in the Paris Agreement, and underscores Mike Bloomberg’s dedication to climate action investments that translate city commitments into tangible climate achievements. Bloomberg will continue to announce the winners of the Climate Challenge on a rolling basis this year, highlighting the ongoing, ambitious, and impactful actions cities are taking every day to address the growing threat of climate change.

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. 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.

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