- Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg named Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland, OR and San Jose, CA as the next four winners of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ American Cities Climate Challenge.
- The latest winners join Atlanta and Seattle as honorees, with 20 total to be recognized for their efforts to tackle climate change. Winners will be given a cash prize to help accelerate environmental initiatives or bring new ones to fruition.
- "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,' Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. "These mayors are committed to delivering a brighter, more hopeful tomorrow for future generations."
In a statement announcing their victories, Bloomberg Philanthropies said all four cities intend to use the financial help and support to reduce emissions in transportation, including by encouraging more transit use, electrifying existing fleets and emphasizing new options like bike- and scooter-share programs. The group noted transportation and buildings are typically responsible for 80% of a city’s emissions, so with mayors having the authority over them, something can be done at the local level.
Bloomberg repeated his calls for local leadership on climate change, that the federal government has stepped back from the fight against emissions and saving the environment. Earlier this year, Bloomberg donated from his personal wealth to make up for a funding shortfall in the Paris climate accord, which President Trump withdrew the United States from last year. And he launched the We Are Still In coalition of local leaders in support of climate change initiatives. "With Washington asleep at the wheel, cities need to step up in the fight against climate change — and these cities are leading the way," Bloomberg said in a statement.
For Bloomberg, who was recently named the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action, the urgency of the situation could not be more apparent after a report said only 12 years remain to take action and keep temperature rises to a maximum of 1.5ºC. And while other reports have suggested the United States is more or less on track to achieve its goals under the Paris climate accord, more must be done — and this challenge and others should serve as motivation for cities.