Austin has been selected as one of 25 cities to receive up to $2.5 million in funding and support as part of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ American Cities Climate Challenge. The contest was established to support mayors and cities working to fight climate change, specifically in the buildings and transportation sectors.
“Our team was impressed by your bold goals,” Bloomberg Philanthropies founder and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told Austin Mayor Steve Adler during an announcement Friday at the Long Center for the Performing Arts.
Bloomberg said Adler was among the mayors who came together to say "we're still in" after the Trump administration announced it was pulling out of the Paris climate accord.
Adler said cities need to do more collectively as “the federal government is backing off.”
City Manager Spencer Cronk said Austin already has been working toward an aggressive emissions reduction plan.
"Global and local leaders know that we need to take urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions across the board to honor, strengthen, and exceed the Paris climate agreement," he said.
The city said it plans to use the resources to accomplish several goals by 2020, including advancing programs that encourage sustainable commuting, making municipal buildings more energy efficient, implementing new parking programs and working with car dealerships to increase electric vehicle sales.
Cronk and Adler both touched on Austin’s more aggressive long-term goal of having net-zero emissions by 2050.
“The near-term obstacles on a lot of climate change work is that it requires a change in culture,” Adler said. He said Austin needs people to drive alone less frequently, which can happen only if the city improves its transit system or provides alternative transportation options.
The mayor said it’s in the city’s interest to address climate change and cited the wide swings in weather conditions, such as recent floods, droughts and wildfires.
“No one effort is enough to save the world,” he said, “but the world’s not going to be saved unless we have lots of efforts that are collectively helping.”
San Antonio was also among the winners.