LISTEN: Bloomberg Philanthropies selected Savannah as one of 25 U.S. cities to participate in a $200 million initiative for lessening reliance on fossil fuels. GPB's Benjamin Payne reports.

Logo for “100% Savannah,” the city's clean energy plan initiated by councilmembers in 2020.

Logo for “100% Savannah,” the city's clean energy plan initiated by councilmembers in 2020.

Credit: City of Savannah

Savannah is joining two dozen other U.S. municipalities in the inaugural group of Bloomberg American Sustainable Cities, a nationwide initiative meant to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Bloomberg Philanthropies this month launched the program, pledging cities “in-depth, customized policy and technical assistance” over three years to help municipalities maximize federal funding opportunities through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.

The $200 million initiative is the latest climate change-related project of Bloomberg Philanthropies, founded in 2006 by billionaire businessman and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Speaking Tuesday to reporters, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said that the initiative will help the city “realize” the goals set in its clean energy plan, dubbed 100% Savannah.

The 2020 City Council resolution which initiated the planning process states that, by 2035, all electricity consumed in the city “shall be generated from safe, clean, and renewable energy,” and that all other energy needs are met this way by 2050.

It does not lay out specific greenhouse-gas emission targets nor does it explicitly call for complete decarbonization.

“We're serious when we say ‘100% Savannah,’” Johnson told reporters. “We're serious when we say that we're going to be a city where safe, green and renewable energy transforms economic opportunity for all residents. All residents. We're not going to leave anyone behind.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies noted in a statement that climate change disproportionately impacts people of color and “magnifies long-standing historic inequities.”

African Americans make up about 53% of Savannah's roughly 148,000 residents, according to the latest population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Potential projects for cities in the initiative include the development of affordable, energy-efficient housing, and investments in electric vehicle infrastructure, among other actions, according to the charity.

Atlanta is the only other Georgia municipality that was chosen to participate in Bloomberg American Sustainable Cities.

In a statement, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens called it “an opportunity for us to collaborate with cities facing similar challenges, share best practices and tap into resources to fight climate change and enhance the quality of life for all Atlantans.”

Twelve of the 25 cities are located in the South. Outside of Georgia, they include Birmingham, Ala., Montgomery, Ala., Chattanooga, Tenn., Memphis, Tenn., Nashville, Tenn., Charlotte, N.C., Raleigh, N.C., Hampton, Va., Newport News, Va., and Jackson, Miss.