St. Louis named winner of Bloomberg climate change initiative

The decision is welcomed by Washington University faculty members, several of whom have been key partners in the city's efforts to study and combat climate change.

In an effort to tackle the escalating problems associated with climate change, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge – a $70 million-dollar initiative that assists U.S. mayors in reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). On Oct. 29, Bloomberg named St. Louis as one of 20 cities selected to be part of this two-year program and will pledge $2.5 million-dollars in resources to help St. Louis reach its carbon reduction goals.

David Fike

“This was a competitive application process, so we were ecstatic to learn that the City of St. Louis was a winner,” said David Fike, InCEES Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences; associate director of the International Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (InCEES) and director of the Environmental Studies Program.

“The grant from Bloomberg allows St. Louis to accelerate its progress in reducing GHG’s from the building and transportation sector, which will lead to a significantly cleaner and sustainable region,” said Fike.

Washington University students and faculty members have been key partners with the city in recent years through an environmental studies class called the Sustainability Exchange, led by William Lowry, professor of political science. In 2018, students worked closely with the City’s Sustainability Director, Catherine Werner, to incorporate the latest version of the Greenhouse Emission Inventory available to the City.                                                      

“The purpose of the Sustainability Exchange course is to bring together students to tackle real-world problems in the areas of energy, environmental equity, and sustainability through a hands-on experience,” said Fike. “It helps students make the transition from an academic environment to the working world.”

The Bloomberg announcement comes several weeks after Washington University joined the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3), a network of institutions committed to strengthening research in discovering climate solutions.

Additionally, on Aug. 28 Washington University held a cross-sector climate change forum, which brought together corporate, nonprofit and government leaders to discuss ways to collaborate in developing a greener region. The forum produced a signed proclamation from 30 organizations (including the City of St. Louis) that agreed to endorse regional greenhouse gas reduction targets of 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, as well as an 80 percent reduction below 2005 levels by 2050.

Himadri Pakrasi, Washington University’s executive liaison to UC3, lauded the Bloomberg announcement.

“With the help from Bloomberg, the City of St. Louis and Washington University will show the nation that when cities and universities partner together, great progress can be made in addressing climate challenges,” said Pakrasi the Myron and Sonja Glassberg/Albert and Blanche Greensfelder Distinguished University Professor and director of InCEES.