As our city leaders work to fight climate change and preserve the goals of the Paris Agreement, they are finding they’re not alone.

On Oct. 21, billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Pittsburgh is the latest winner of his foundation’s American Cities Climate Challenge at a press conference on top of Mt. Washington.

In addition to $2.5 million to help ongoing city efforts, Pittsburgh will also receive two years of resources and technical support from Bloomberg Philanthropies as it looks to cut emissions and improve sustainability.

Standing next to Mayor Bill Peduto at West End-Elliott Overlook Park on Sunday, the philanthropist and media mogul praised Pittsburgh’s commitment to fighting climate change, particularly in terms of cutting back building emissions.

Our city was announced as a winner along with Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Boston. The first batch of winners — Atlanta, Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego, San Jose and Seattle — was announced in late September. According to Bloomberg Philanthropies, 10 more cities will be named in the coming months.

“With our federal government asleep at the wheel, cities are more important than ever in the fight against climate change — and these cities are stepping up to the challenge,” said Bloomberg.

“Pittsburgh is a city built on innovation. We’re so proud that we’ve done our part to uphold the Paris Agreement, and we’re ready to do even more,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. “With the American Cities Climate Challenge, we can expand our clean energy program not just in Pittsburgh, but statewide, and we’re ready to get to work.”

The money will be used “to develop and roll out a statewide clean energy financing program, scale renewable power through community solar programs and expand bike and pedestrian infrastructure throughout the city,” according to a press release.

Those projects and more will be highlighted in “Paris to Pittsburgh,” an upcoming documentary produced by Bloomberg Philanthropies and National Geographic about efforts to fight climate change all over the world.

The event comes amid rampant speculation that Bloomberg is preparing to run for president in 2020.

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.