- A green corridor project in Medellin, Colombia, and London's ultra-low emission zone were among seven projects recognized with a C40 Cities Bloomberg Philanthropies Award. The prizes recognize cities that have taken local action to combat climate change and improve the health of citizens and were awarded at the C40 Climate Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Thursday.
- San Francisco was given the award for transformative change for the CleanPowerSF program, which offers residents the option to purchase renewable and low-carbon energy. Seoul, South Korea, was also recognized with the clean energy award for a solar power expansion.
- Guangzhou, China, and Kolkata, India, were awarded for programs to electrify buses and, in Kolkata's case, ferries. Accra, Ghana, won the engaged citizen award for integrating its informal waste collector network into the city's official waste management system.
Although national and international climate action tends to capture the headlines, cities have emerged as the leaders in testing new technology and implementing policy changes. At the C40 Climate Summit, 94 mayors pledged their support of a Global Green New Deal, recognizing a global climate emergency and committing to limiting global warming to an increase of just 1.5 degrees Celsius, in line with the Paris climate agreement.
The awards are designed to highlight innovative projects and policy. In a statement, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who also chairs C40, said the projects awarded by Bloomberg Philanthropies "should be studied by mayors and city leaders as they each define the future we want in our cities." Medellin was recognized for its Avenida Oriental Green Corridors, a connected network of plants that improve urban biodiversity and capture CO2 and other air pollutants, a model for other cities as they seek to improve plant biodiversity.
Two cities being recognized for electric bus projects also signals the growing role of that technology. A recent report from U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Environment America showed that several U.S. cities are taking up electric bus fleets as the technology has become more advanced and cheaper. Likewise, London's first-in-the-world ultra-low emissions zone, which restricts the type of cars that can drive in central London, has been cited as other cities eye congestion zones or pricing schemes.
Bloomberg Philanthropies and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have pushed cities, especially in the U.S., to take the lead on climate change. According to a 2018 report from America's Pledge, the group Bloomberg founded with former California Gov. Jerry Brown, the work of cities and sub-national governments has the U.S. almost halfway to meeting its Paris commitment, with policies projected to deliver a 17% emissions reduction to 2005 levels by 2025.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect the correct geographical location of Medellin.