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Minneapolis And St. Paul Are Going Greener With Help From Michael Bloomberg

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The Twin Cities have done a lot to make the Midwest more sustainable. Minneapolis recently launched a Meatless Monday supper club to encourage plant-based dining, while both Minneapolis and St. Paul have made commitments to solar subscriptions over the past year. Now, the two cities are about to receive a reward for their hard work — and support to keep it going.

As Michael Bloomberg revealed last week, Minneapolis and St. Paul are two of the latest winners of the American Cities Climate Challenge, an initiative designed to boost urban hubs that are leading the way on environmental action.

The American Cities Climate Challenge is a two-year accelerator program that helps cities hit or exceed their carbon reduction goals. Run through Bloomberg Philanthropies, the challenge will ultimately assist 20 cities, though not all of the winners have been selected just yet.

Applications opened this June to the 100 most populous cities in the U.S., who were invited to submit their most ambitious proposals and policies to combat climate change. Bloomberg Philanthropies has gradually been announcing the winning submissions this fall, awarding cash prizes to each new champion. The chosen cities will all receive $2.5 million in funding as well as “robust technical assistance” that includes data resources and polling support, according to the official website.

Bloomberg announced the program’s latest additions alongside Jacob Frey (the mayor of Minneapolis) and Melvin Carter (the mayor of St. Paul) on Monday, Oct. 29. But the victories extended well outside Minnesota. The newest class of challenge champs includes not just Minneapolis and St. Paul, but Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Columbus as well.

“With Washington asleep at the wheel, cities are more important than ever in the fight against climate change. And they are driving America forward,” Bloomberg said in a statement. 

“In response to our Climate Challenge, cities all across the country – red and blue, big and small – put forward thoughtful and innovative proposals. But Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis, and St. Louis broke out from the pack. Congratulations to them all! And I look forward to seeing them put their ideas into action.”

According to The Star Tribune, Frey and Carter each unveiled 2020 targets for their respective cities, which include more clean energy and better public transportation. Speaking in downtown Minneapolis, the mayors expressed enthusiasm for the work ahead.

“We all know that the impacts of climate change are hurting our communities, they're impacting our cities and they cannot go unanswered," Carter told the crowd.

Frey added, "People are calling right now for cities to step up and lead, and we most definitely are going to answer that call.”

Residents of the Twin Cities can expect to see a lot more EV chargers, bike shares, and solar installations as Frey and Carter implement their winning strategies over the next two years. With the announcement, the American Cities Climate Challenge has now filled 18 of its slots — leaving two cities still poised for (green) victory.