On October 21, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced Philadelphia as a winning city in 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 participation in the Climate Challenge, Philadelphia is accepted into a two-year acceleration program providing powerful new resources and access to cutting-edge support to help meet or beat our carbon reduction goals.

Bloomberg Philanthropies selected Philadelphia because of our city’s innovative and ambitious climate action plans to reduce air pollution and city-wide emissions with specific projects aimed at reforming transportation and buildings. Transportation and buildings typically account for 80 percent of all citywide emissions and additionally, mayors have significant authority over these two sectors. Bloomberg Philanthropies also recognized Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney for his commitment to ambitious climate action and securing a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment and economy for Philly residents.

The role of American cities

“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, UN Special Envoy for Climate Action. “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.”

“Now more than ever, local governments must lead on climate action,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said. “Philadelphia is proud to partner with Bloomberg Philanthropies to scale up our climate action to protect our most vulnerable residents and create a healthy, vibrant, and just city for the future.”

“The Paris climate agreement is a promise we made to our children—and we’re going to keep it,” said Rhea Suh, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The American Cities Climate Challenge gives cities the tools they need to lead the way. 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. These mayors are committed to delivering a brighter, more hopeful tomorrow for future generations.”

So, what does this mean for Philly?

Philadelphia plans to use this support to reduce carbon emissions 28 percent by 2025 in line with the Paris Climate Agreement, and Bloomberg Philanthropies will work with the city to achieve the following actions by 2020:

  • Scale up energy efficiency projects across homes and the city’s largest commercial buildings through policies, programs, job training and other resources.
  • Dramatically increase the generation and use of renewable energy by leading and supporting institutional clean energy procurement programs.
  • Increase trips by bicycle, walking, and transit by 5 percent by 2025 or sooner through the implementation of Connect: Philadelphia’s Strategic Transportation Plan.
  • Accelerate transition of 6,000 municipal vehicles to electric, and work with SEPTA to electrify its fleet.

“Transformational action on climate change must include a focus on those most vulnerable to its harmful effects,” said Christine Knapp, Director of Philadelphia’s Office of Sustainability. “The American Cities Climate Challenge will support Philadelphia in improving economic outcomes for our residents by reducing energy costs, improving local air quality, and creating job opportunities.”

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.