- Bloomberg Philanthropies announced Friday Seattle and Atlanta are the first of 20 winners of its American Cities Climate Challenge.
- The pair have been accepted into a two-year acceleration program to meet or exceed their goals to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change. The other 18 winners in the program worth $70 million will be announced soon, and will receive guidance and other resources to help.
- "We were looking for cities with ambitious and realistic plans to cut emissions in ways that improve people’s lives, and mayors committed to getting the job done," former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is backing the challenge, said in a statement. "Each of these winning cities brings those ingredients to the table — and we’re looking forward to working with them and seeing what they can accomplish."
Both Seattle and Atlanta have been leaders in fighting climate change at the city level, and their efforts have been rewarded with this honor from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Atlanta was the first city in the southeast to pass a law around clean buildings, according to MyAJC, and plans to use this challenge to expand its charging infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs) and pass a Complete Streets ordinance to help make its streets safer for all users.
Seattle, meanwhile, released a climate action plan earlier this year, and will look to use this challenge to create green jobs and further study congestion pricing, among other initiatives. "Seattle has suffered from both increasingly destructive wildfires and extreme rainstorms. Tackling climate action isn't just about investing in the future — it’s about protecting our communities right now," Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a statement. "In Seattle, we’re excited to be part of the solution, pioneering innovative policies that will both reduce our carbon footprint and benefit our city."
This initiative represents a major investment from Bloomberg, who has already 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.
With 18 more cities to be announced as winners, Bloomberg clearly sees urban jurisdictions as the leaders on fighting climate change, something national groups, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, have embraced.
“Cities are helping to keep America moving forward on climate change despite the lack of leadership from Washington, and this challenge was designed to help innovative mayors reach their goals,” Bloomberg said.