Former NYC mayor Bloomberg announces $2.5 million award to help Pittsburgh’s environment
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stood atop the West End Overlook on Sunday afternoon and recalled a visit to Pittsburgh several years ago when he could not see across the streets through the smog.
“What a change,” said Bloomberg, who serves as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action.
“It’s quite amazing and so much better for the people.”
He joined Mayor Bill Peduto to announce Pittsburgh as a winner in the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge, a $70 million initiative expected to accelerate the city’s efforts to tackle climate change and promote a sustainable future for residents.
Three other winners announced today include Philadelphia, Boston and Washington, D.C. They join six cities named as winners in the first round.
Winners will receive technical assistance and a support package valued at up to $2.5 million per city.
Peduto said Pittsburgh will use the money to create and implement a benchmarking policy for buildings, develop a statewide clean energy financing program, scale renewable power through community solar programs and expand bike and pedestrian infrastructure.
The goal is to see 100 percent renewable energy in city operations, a 50 percent reduction in energy consumption and a shift in transportation energy use.
“We have traveled further than any other city from the environmental degradation that was part of this city’s fabric,” Peduto said. “It’s only because of partnerships that addressed issues of air and water quality.
“We have a long way to go, but that we’ve shown them how a city that had basically destroyed its environment can come back and succeed economically.”
Peduto credited teamwork among Pittsburgh City Council for promoting a green-first agenda, and also partnerships between government and higher education, like the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon, that strengthen 21st Century cities.
Bloomberg told the gathering of about 15 people that energy efficiency saves taxpayers’ money. Mass transit and bike lanes help people get around, parks make cities more attractive places to live and reducing traffic improves economic productivity.
“All these steps help clean the air, which helps people live longer lives and helps businesses create more jobs,” Bloomberg said. “What’s not to like about that?”
He called Pittsburgh a global leader in the renewable energy industry, with 13,000 city residents working in that field.
“Pittsburgh is a great example of a city that is benefiting from smart climate policies,” Bloomberg said. “The economy is growing, and the environment is greener than it has been in decades.”
About 100 of the country’s largest cities applied to the challenge, submitting bold plans to cut carbon emissions, Bloomberg said. All aimed to reduce air pollution and citywide emissions with specific projects to reform transit and buildings sectors -- two areas traditionally responsible for 80 percent of all citywide emissions.
Other cities already announced as winners include Atlanta, Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego, San Jose and Seattle.