Press & Media

Mike Bloomberg Names Seattle and Atlanta First Winners in American Cities Climate Challenge

Seattle and Atlanta are initial two of 20 cities total to be awarded with resources and technical support to help achieve their ambitious climate goals under Bloomberg’s Climate Challenge

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – Today, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action and former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg joined Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan in Seattle’s Kerry Park to announce Seattle and Atlanta as the first round of winning cities for the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge. The Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge is a $70 million dollar program that will accelerate 20 ambitious cities’ efforts to tackle climate change and promote a sustainable future for residents. 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 – Seattle and Atlanta are accepted into a two-year acceleration program, will be provided powerful new resources and access to cutting-edge support to help meet or beat the cities’ near-term carbon reduction goals.

Bloomberg praised the two cities’ innovative and ambitious climate action plans to reduce air pollution and city-wide emissions with specific projects aimed at reforming their respective transit and buildings sectors, areas which are typically responsible for 90% total of all citywide emissions and are areas over which mayors have significant authority. Bloomberg praised both Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkin and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for their commitment to ambitious climate action and securing a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment and economy for their citizens.

“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 Seattle, we’re excited to be part of the solution, pioneering innovative policies that will both reduce our carbon footprint and benefit our city. The support of Bloomberg Philanthropies and the American Cities Climate Challenge will give us critical momentum in achieving our goals.”

“Air pollution, droughts and adverse impacts of extreme weather are undeniable challenges that too often severely impact our most vulnerable residents – children and the elderly,” said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “I am thrilled that Atlanta has the opportunity to take part in the American Cities Climate Challenge. With the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, we will create a bigger, better and more equitable future for Atlantans.”

“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,” said Mike Bloomberg. “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. 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.”

Winners of the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge will be provided robust technical assistance and support package valued at up to $2.5 million per city. Seattle plans to use this support to improve the energy efficiency of citywide buildings and reduce emissions from the transit sector, and Bloomberg Philanthropies will work the city to achieve the following actions by 2020:

  • Expand financing and incentives for building efficiency including the 2030 building pilot that will create the City’s most sustainable buildings
  • Make Seattle a model for the creation of green jobs through an innovative pilot with Seattle Colleges;
  • Provide new programs to incentivize public transportation, bikes, and walking over single occupancy vehicles;
  • Evaluate and advance implementation of strategies based on Seattle Department of Transportation congestion pricing study

Atlanta was the first city in the Southeast to pass a building energy benchmarking and transparency ordinance, and as a winner of the Climate Challenge it will work with the Climate Challenge team to put even more ambitious plans into action and ensure that all climate change interventions promote the values of One Atlanta, an affordable, resilient, and equitable Atlanta for all residents. Specifically, by 2020 the Climate Challenge will help Atlanta achieve the following:

  • A sustainable and resilient building stock supported by clean energy upgrades and existing building code enforcement.
  • Expand Atlanta’s charging infrastructure for electric vehicles via the recently enacted EV Readiness Ordinance, which can serve as an example for cities around the country; and
  • Complete Streets Ordinance to allow for coordination of traffic signals throughout the city and prioritization of sidewalks and last-mile connectivity throughout Atlanta, especially in under-served neighborhoods.

As Climate Challenge winners, the 20 cities will be accepted into a two-year acceleration program with powerful new resources and access to cutting-edge support to help them meet – or beat – their near-term carbon reduction goals. These resources include 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.

Building on the America’s Pledge initiative, which aims to keep the U.S. in the Paris Agreement, the Climate Challenge underscores Bloomberg’s dedication to action as this investment will translate city commitments into tangible climate achievements. Bloomberg will announce the remaining winners of the Climate Challenge on a rolling basis throughout the fall, highlighting the ongoing, ambitious, and impactful actions cities are taking every day to address the growing threat of climate change.

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About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies works in 480 cities in more than 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2017, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $702 million. For more information, please visit www.bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.

About the American Cities Climate Challenge
Recognizing that cities account for more than 70% of global carbon emissions, the 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 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. World-class partners for the American Cities Climate Challenge will be led by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Delivery Associates. The 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.