Climate Mayors closes out the year by welcoming a new leadership team to head into a major year for climate action and progress in U.S. cities.
Climate Mayors announced their new leadership team on December 14, 2022, highlighting several mayors who will be carrying the torch as the new leaders of the climate action organization. With Mayor Turner of Houston stepping down as his term nears its end, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway of Madison will serve as the 2023 Chair. She will lead alongside Mayor Kate Gallego of Phoenix who has held her Vice-Chair position since 2021 and new incoming Vice-Chair, Mayor Justin Bibb of Cleveland. These three mayors have been exemplary models for citywide attention to the climate crisis, public health and environmental justice and are poised to continue this leadership in the year ahead.
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway has held office in Madison, Wisconsin since 2019 and began her term by making history as the first openly LGBTQ person to hold the position. She has been a member of the Climate Mayors Steering Committee since 2020 and served as Vice-Chair in 2021 and 2022. We’re proud to announce her transition to Chair of Climate Mayors. Her leadership on climate action in Madison showcases her dedication to protecting people and the planet. The Mayor has prioritized climate action in numerous ways such as investing in energy retrofits to affordable housing, advancing EV-charging infrastructure, and she is now breaking ground on a $160 million bus rapid transit system with all-electric buses. Mayor Rhodes-Conway’s actions show what’s possible with bold, ambitious climate leadership.
Madison has already achieved many climate wins, including investing in over 20 megawatts of rooftop and offsite solar energy, rapidly converting municipal fleets to electric and alternative fuels, and making major investments in Madison’s stormwater system to increase resilience to flooding, just to name a few. A priority for the Mayor for the upcoming year will be helping cities take full advantage of climate solutions in the Inflation Reduction Act.
“I’m honored to serve as Climate Mayors Chair at this critical time for climate action in cities,” said Mayor Rhodes-Conway. “Cities have long been our climate leaders, and during my time as Climate Mayors Chair, I am eager to work with other Mayors, the federal government, and numerous partners to help ensure that the unprecedented federal investments in climate solutions reach U.S. cities and their residents.”
Mayor Kate Gallego of Phoenix, Arizona has held office since 2019 and has served as the Climate Mayors Vice-Chair since 2020 and Vice-Chair of C40 Cities since 2021. In 2023, she will maintain her position as Vice-Chair alongside the new leadership team members. Mayor Gallego’s goal is to make Phoenix the most sustainable desert city on the planet. As the world continues to warm, that means boosting the city’s heat resiliency, implementing innovative ideas like cool pavement; managing water supplies in ways that encourage conservation; and advancing transit options like light rail while building infrastructure that supports electric vehicle adoption. She also put transparency and access first with the launch of a new environment and sustainability web portal in 2022 which provides residents with timely updates and access to environmental, sustainability, and climate programs.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside Mayors Bibb and Rhodes-Conway toward our shared mission at Climate Mayors,” said Mayor Gallego. “Our leadership team will continue to put people first in the fight against climate change. Challenging ourselves and our cities to meet the unique needs of our local communities while driving progress forward in clean energy, adaptation and sustainable innovation.”
Mayor Justin Bibb has served as the first millennial mayor of Cleveland, Ohio since 2022 and is now a newly inducted member of the Climate Mayors leadership team as Vice-Chair. Climate justice and sustainability has been a key component of Mayor Bibb’s platform, since connecting with constituents about their lived health experiences related to climate change, such as asthma aggravated by increasing high heat days. In his first year as mayor, Bibb has included climate justice as a key component for all cabinet leader positions, as well as elevating it into a titled cabinet role – Director of Sustainability and Climate Justice. Thus embedding accountability, equity and just transition at the forefront of climate change solutions planned, coordinated and implemented by the city. Mayor Bibb identifies reducing reliance on fossil fuels, and moving toward solar, wind, and hydro power as a key driver of the city’s green economic outlook.
The City of Cleveland has already set a goal of meeting 100% of the city’s overall electricity demand from renewable energy sources by 2050, but is currently exploring a more aggressive timeline to achieve the vision of a clean and equitable energy future. Cleveland also offers tax abatements and grants for residential developments that meet Cleveland Green Building Standards, and is piloting a rooftop Solar Low-Moderate Income (LMI) program for up to 10 households.
Under Mayor Bibb’s leadership, the city will build upon and align past municipal level climate action planning with science-based climate targets and convene economic leadership in the greater metropolitan area to co-identify and co-plan clear next steps to pivot local and regional decarbonization commitments into action.
“I’m honored to serve amongst seasoned Climate Mayors Gallego and Rhodes-Conway as Vice-Chair. Supporting the conditions for climate justice to thrive in Cleveland and in cities across America is a critical step toward creating an equitable tomorrow for all”, said Mayor Justin Bibb.
The Climate Mayors organization is proud to welcome these three exceptional mayors to its leadership team. There is no doubt that they will dutifully serve their cities and this organization by leading the charge in transitioning to clean energy, reducing city emissions, creating jobs, and uplifting environmental justice. “We’re thrilled to bring fresh energy and ideas to the Climate Mayors leadership team. The dynamic leadership of Mayors Rhodes-Conway, Bibb and Gallego will harness the power of U.S. cities to make an impact in meeting Paris Agreement targets and limiting global warming despite what’s going on at the federal level,” said Kate Wright, Climate Mayors’ Executive Director. “Building on the remarkable work accomplished by outgoing leadership, the new team will lead the way in making 2023 a year of robust and diverse climate achievements in cities.”
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