Columbus Among 20 Cities Chosen for Climate Change Mitigation Program
As the world faces down a tightened timeline to address climate change, Columbus has been chosen for a unique opportunity. Named one of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ winning cities in the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge, Columbus will set out on a two-year accelerated program that will help the city achieve its carbon reduction goals.
Columbus and 19 other cities (to be announced) will benefit from the $70 million program. With that funding, each city will receive a package of support that’s valued at more than $2.5 million. That package includes monetary assistance to grow staff capacity on the ground to work toward energy efficiency in the building and transportation sectors, which contribute over 70 percent of all carbon emissions.
Kelly Shultz, a member of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Environment Team, says the Climate Challenge is meant to build on initiatives the City of Columbus has already employed.
“The City has a really strong track record of success,” she says. “They’ve made big strides in reducing their emissions from municipal operations. They reduced emissions from municipal operations over 35 percent, which is incredible.”
She says part of Columbus’ win can be attributed to another win back in 2016: the Department of Transportation’s Smart Cities Challenge. Through that $50 million grant, the City is working to decarbonize the transportation sector by increasing electric vehicle adoption and creating alternate transit modes.
The city has a lineup of other programs, including the Columbus Food Action Plan, which is collaborating with SWACO to develop a food waste initiative; and GreenSpot, which is working to commit businesses and households to greener living. Through GreenSpot, businesses and homeowners can commit to sustainable actions, such as changing lights to LEDs and installing energy efficient insulation and windows.
“We were incredibly impressed by the level of ambition and commitment from the City of Columbus and their willingness to share and learn from others,” Shultz says. “They’re such an important leader and we’re thrilled to be able to work with them.”
The Climate Challenge program will build on Columbus’ established initiatives by enhancing existing and identifying new ways to finance energy efficiency work; supplying a workforce development program for energy efficiency auditors and increasing the number of homes audited; offering access to technical partners from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to help with analyzing and strategizing new efforts; and launching communications, outreach and education campaigns around key initiatives.
“The wellbeing and prosperity of our community is inextricably linked to solving the climate crisis. This presents a great opportunity to our generation to innovate,” Mayor Andrew Ginther says in a press release. “Columbus is no stranger to innovation. By being named a winning city by Bloomberg, we will be able to boldly move forward with existing and new programs to cut city emissions through sustainable construction and mobility initiatives.”
The Climate Challenge is an extension of the America’s Pledge initiative, whose goal is to keep the U.S. in the Paris Agreement, a global commitment to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, which was made with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2016. Still, 179 countries remain committed to the agreement.
“The Paris climate agreement is a promise we made to our children — and we’re going to keep it,” says Rhea Suh, President of the NRDC, in the release. “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.”
For more information, visit bloomberg.org.