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Minneapolis, St. Paul get Bloomberg boost to address climate change

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Michael Bloomberg, spoke at a news conference on Monday
Michael Bloomberg, a special envoy on climate change for the U.N. and former New York City Mayor, announced that both Minneapolis and St. Paul are among the 20 cities chosen for a $70 million program.
Elizabeth Dunbar | MPR News

Updated: 4:47 p.m. | Posted: 1:00 p.m.

Minneapolis and St. Paul joined cities from across the country Monday in a $70 million program designed to help them address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

As part of the American Cities Climate Challenge, the two cities will join more than a dozen others in receiving $2.5 million each over two years from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The foundation is led by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who now serves as a U.N. special envoy for climate action. 

A rider boards a Green Line light rail train.
A rider boards a Green Line light rail train in St. Paul. Rail systems, hybrid electric buses and other ride-sharing programs are solutions that cities like St. Paul and Minneapolis are using to reach their carbon-neutral status goals.
Tim Nelson | MPR News 2016

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter joined Bloomberg in Minneapolis for the announcement.  Bloomberg's foundation also said it had added Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis and St. Louis to the program.

'Green' bus
Hybrid electric buses and other ride-sharing programs are solutions that cities like St. Paul and Minneapolis are using to reach their carbon-neutral status goals.
Photo courtesy of Metro Transit

The new additions join 10 others: Atlanta, Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle and Washington, D.C. 

Both Minneapolis and St. Paul have aggressive goals calling for 80 to 100 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.

A climate action plan in Minneapolis calls for 80 percent reduction of emissions by 2050, with a goal of 100 percent renewable energy in the city by 2030. In St. Paul, officials are seeking to reach carbon-neutral status by 2050.

Bloomberg said during a news conference in Minneapolis that the things cities can do to reduce emissions also increase residents' quality of life, such as reducing traffic congestion, adding biking and walking opportunities and reducing utility bills through efficiency. 

"Private philanthropy can't solve all the big problems, but what private philanthropy can do is give you examples and show what works," he said. "And then cities and states and the federal government have to scale things up." 

According to a press release from Bloomberg Philanthropies, both cities plan to use the money to address transportation's contribution to emissions. 

Michael Bloomberg, speaks at a news conference on Monday
Each city will receive $2.5 million as part of the program will boost efforts to reduce transportation emissions through new mobility programs and accelerate solar energy adoption.
Elizabeth Dunbar | MPR News

In Minneapolis, city officials plan to offer a subscription service for unlimited transit use, shared car access and other mobility options such as scooters and ride-hailing. The city also plans to implement more solar energy through community solar gardens.

St. Paul hopes to build 35 "mobility hubs" and hopes to bring 90 percent of its residents within 10 minutes of electric vehicles, transit or bikes and scooters. The city will also continue making city buildings more efficient and increase opportunities for solar energy.

Carter said he's excited to see the progress he thinks will be possible with Bloomberg's help.

"Having access to the staff, the capacity, the technical assistance, the types of networks and certainly the expertise is incredible for our city," he said.