Mar 12, 2024 - Energy & Environment

Exclusive: Bloomberg to give $200 million for emissions cuts in 25 U.S. cities

Illustration of scissors cutting a dollar sign made of smoke

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

The charitable organization founded by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg will spend $200 million to help leaders of 25 U.S. cities tap into federal funding opportunities to cut their emissions.

Why it matters: The funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies could allow these cities to grow their building and transportation networks in ways that limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The big picture: The initiative, announced first to Axios, will be known as Bloomberg American Sustainable Cities. It gives mayors access to both funding and expertise to tap into federal funding for emissions reductions.

  • These include funds provided under the Biden climate law, formally known as the Inflation Reduction Act, as well as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
  • The program aims to bring in experts to help these cities move forward, including PolicyLink, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation at Johns Hopkins University.

This new program is in keeping with Bloomberg's focus on cities as a focus area for slashing emissions.

  • The $200 million brings the organization's contributions to supporting localized emissions cuts to more than $650 million so far, Bloomberg Philanthropies stated.
  • The billionaire mogul is also involved at the international level, as the U.N. Secretary-General's Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions, and president of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.

Zoom in: The cities chosen for the program include Akron, Ohio, Birmingham, Ala., Charlotte, N.C., Cleveland, Montgomery, Ala., Nashville, Tenn., Newport News and Hampton, Va.; as well as St. Louis, Mo., among others.

  • Projects could include building affordable, energy-efficient housing, increasing the availability of electric vehicles and charging stations, and more.
  • The initiative has a particular emphasis on making sure cities can leverage and utilize federal funds to move local projects forward, especially in disadvantaged communities.

The intrigue: The selected cities won't just receive money, but expertise too. Each city will be matched with an "innovation team" with up to three dedicated staff to help cities move forward on climate mitigation and equity.

  • They will also receive multiyear, in-depth assistance together with community-based organizations, Bloomberg Philanthropies said.

What they're saying: "The innovation team will help us tackle real issues in the lives of Akronites," Akron mayor Shammas Malik said in a statement. "Leveraging philanthropic funding to create and grow a truly sustainable and equitable Akron."

  • "Our nation's cities are where the rubber meets the road, train track, and bike path on adopting clean energy and tackling the climate crisis," John Podesta, senior advisor to the president for international climate policy, told Axios in a statement.
  • "Investments like these are exactly what's needed to support mayors as they lead the charge toward a cleaner and more equitable future."

Context: Bloomberg, NYC's former three-term mayor and founder of news organization Bloomberg LP, has been a prominent climate donor for decades.

  • In conjunction with the Sierra Club, he spent tens of millions to target coal power plants for closure to curb the emissions associated with them. He has taken this advocacy global.
  • Bloomberg has also spearheaded other alliances of global cities to cut emissions at the local and regional levels, even when national governments have rolled back emissions goals.
  • Unlike other prominent climate donors like Bill Gates, Bloomberg is not focused on advancing next-generation energy technologies.
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