MIKE BLOOMBERG NAMES ATLANTA AS WINNER OF AMERICAN CITIES CLIMATE CHALLENGE
ATLANTA—Today, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action and former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced Atlanta as one of the winning cities of Bloomberg’s American Cities Climate Challenge. The American Cities Climate Challenge is a $70 million program that will accelerate 20 ambitious cities’ efforts to tackle climate change and promote a sustainable future for residents. Bloomberg praised Atlanta’s innovative and ambitious climate action plans to reduce city-wide emissions with specific projects aimed at reforming local building and emissions from the city’s transit and buildings sectors, which typically total 90% of citywide emissions and are areas over which mayors have significant authority.
Through the Climate Challenge—part of Bloomberg’s American Cities Initiative, a suite of more than $200 million in investments to strengthen city halls and advance critical policies—Atlanta is accepted into a two-year acceleration program that provides powerful new resources and access to cutting-edge support to help meet or beat its near-term carbon reduction 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. 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,” said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
“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.”
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 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.
Under Mayor Bottoms’ leadership, Atlanta has accomplished the following:
· Environmental Impact Bond Challenge (EIB): Through a partnership with 100 Resilient Cities, Neighborly, and Quantified Ventures, Atlanta will be the first city to issue publicly-offered EIB’s to fund $12.9 M in green infrastructure projects in Proctor Creek Watershed
- 100% Clean Energy Plan: Release plan to transition Atlanta to 100% clean energy by 2035
- Proctor Creek Greenway: Completed first 3 miles of Proctor Creek Greenway, running from Bankhead MARTA to W. Highlands Trail
- Solar Atlanta: Installing solar on 20+ CoA facilities
- Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge: Expanded energy savings to almost 20%. Added Atlanta Public Schools to the program (10 M square feet), more than a 10% increase. Ready to launch ABBC 2.0, which will be the first program in the country to incorporate waste management and well-being into the metrics
- Energy Savings Performance Contract: Implementing energy & operational savings retrofits on 100+ CoA facilities valued at $160M with no up-front capital expenditures for the City
- Energy Star Ranking: Atlanta named last month as #4 city in U.S. for Energy Star rated facilities
- Solarize Atlanta: Collaborated with nonprofit and philanthropic partners to create Solarize Atlanta, a community-based group purchasing program to increase access to solar energy for residents, businesses, faith-based and nonprofits.
- EV Ready Ordinance: Enacted the country’s most aggressive EV ordinance. (authored by then-Councilwoman Bottoms) The ordinance requires all new parking spaces* associated with new construction for commercial and residential occupancies must have the infrastructure for electric vehicle charging stations installed. “EV Ready” does NOT require the physical charging station. The electrical panel load capacity and raceway/conduit must be sized for the load capacity of the charging station. We successfully started enforcing this code July 1, 2018.
- Alternative Fuel Conversion Plan: Through a strategic partnership with the Electrification Coalition (EC) the Mayor’s Office of Resilience developed Atlanta’s Alternative Fuel Conversion Plan published July 2018. This nine-page document serves as a guide for the City to achieve its commitment of transitioning 20% of its suitable fleet to electric vehicles by the end of 2020.
- Ranked the #38 Green Fleet in North America out of 100 Best Fleets.
- Grow-A-Lot: Revitalized 10+ vacant city parcels into community gardens in low-income food deserts. Parcels include 4 community gardens built within 100 days of administration as well as the largest food forest in the U.S.
- Sustainability Ambassadors: Launched 8-week course to train & educate City of Atlanta Residents on sustainability best practices and to become sustainability advocates in their communities.
“As we work to make Atlanta more resilient to long term stresses that create short term shocks, climate change is undoubtedly one of our greatest challenges,” said Amol Naik, City of Atlanta Chief Resilience Officer. “With receipt of this grant, Atlanta is now poised to be amongst the global leaders in this fight.”
As a winner of the American Cities Climate Challenge, Atlanta will be able to go even further in pursuing their ambitious plans to combat climate change. Atlanta will receive a philanthropy-funded team member to facilitate the development and passage of high impact policies, new training for senior leadership to assist with implementation of their proposed climate plans, and citizen engagement support to maximize community buy-in. These tools will help ensure that Atlanta has the staff and resources necessary to turn climate action plans into reality.
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.