Austin is one of 25 cities to be awarded with resources and technical support to help achieve their ambitious climate goals
[AUSTIN, TEXAS] – January 11, 2019 - Today, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced Austin as a winning city in the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge. At the Long Center for the Performing Arts, Bloomberg Philanthropies founder and UN Special Envoy for Climate Action Michael R. Bloomberg joined Mayor Steve Adler and City Manager Spencer Cronk to state Austin’s acceptance into a two-year acceleration program that will provide powerful new resources and access to cutting-edge support to help meet or beat its near-term carbon reduction goals. Launched in June 2018, the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge is a $70 million-dollar program that will accelerate 25 ambitious cities’ efforts to tackle climate change and promote a sustainable future for residents.The Climate Challenge is part of Bloomberg’s American Cities Initiative, which is a suite of more than $200 million in investments to strengthen city halls and advance critical policies.
Bloomberg Philanthropies selected Austin as a winning city because of their 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 80% total of all citywide emissions. Bloomberg recognized Austin Mayor Adler and City Manager Cronk for their commitment to ambitious climate action and securing a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment and economy for Austin residents.
“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.”
“Austin is fighting hard to mitigate climate change, from investing heavily in wind and solar energy production, to approving a 100-year strategic water plan that conserves precious resources,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said. “And as a winner of the American Cities Climate Challenge, we’ll go even further to reduce emissions and promote a healthier environment for our residents.”
“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.”
Austin plans to use this support to reduce emissions from Buildings and Transportation sources, and Bloomberg Philanthropies will work with the city to achieve the following actions by 2020:
- Advance innovative incentive programs to encourage sustainable commuting.
- Work directly with local car dealerships to increase electric vehicle sales.
- Perform energy efficiency retrofits and retro-commissioning in municipal buildings with high energy use.
- Leverage data from existing energy benchmarking policy to increase Austin Energy commercial rebate program participation.
- Implement new parking management and pricing programs to reduce vehicle emissions.
“We are on track to reduce our community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 22 percent by 2020,” Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk said. “This additional support from Bloomberg Philanthropies will help us achieve this goal faster and lay the foundation for significant reductions beyond 2020.”
As Climate Challenge winners, the 25 winning cities are accepted into a two-year acceleration program with powerful new resources and access to cutting-edge support, led by experts at the Natural Resources Defense Council, Delivery Associates and others, to help them meet—or beat—their near-term carbon reduction goals, from creating high-impact policies to putting them into action. 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 has announced the winners of the Climate Challenge on a rolling basis throughout the last few months, highlighting the ongoing, ambitious, and impactful actions cities are taking every day to address the growing threat of climate change.
About the City of Austin, Texas
Austin, Texas is the state’s capital and is home to nearly one million residents. In 2007, the Austin City Council passed a landmark resolution regarding climate protection, making strong environmental action a critical component of Austin’s mission to be the most livable city in the country. That resolution established a goal of carbon neutrality for municipal operations by 2020. Building upon this and subsequent resolutions to address climate impacts, the Austin Community Climate Plan was approved in 2015 to meet the goal of net-zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Austin’s City Council has also approved a generation plan for the City of Austin’s public electric utility, Austin Energy, to deliver 65 percent renewable energy by 2027, which includes 950 megawatts of utility-scale solar and 900 megawatts of demand side management. Austin Energy is on track to use zero carbon energy by 2050. For more information, visit: www.austintexas.gov/climate.
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 Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge
Recognizing that cities account for more than 70% of global carbon emissions, the Bloomberg 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 Bloomberg 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 Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge will be led by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Delivery Associates. The Bloomberg 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.