Michael Bloomberg announces $500m campaign to end US coal generation

Billionaire businessman and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg has announced a $500m investment aimed at fighting climate change by ending coal-fired electricity generation in the US. 

Michael Bloomberg has a long history of championing decarbonisation and environmental conservation through finance.

Michael Bloomberg has a long history of championing decarbonisation and environmental conservation through finance.

Launching the campaign, called Beyond Carbon, during his commencement address at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bloomberg said he aims for the programme to drive the US towards a 100% clean energy economy – and close all coal-fired power stations within the next decade.

The move follows Bloomberg’s collaboration with the Sierra Club in 2011 to launch Beyond Coal, which assisted in coal plant closure. To date, 289 of 530 of North America's coal plants have shut and Beyond Carbon will accelerate work on this front, using strategies from the former campaign, as well as preventing the construction of gas plants as an alternative.

Bloomberg has made this cash injection into the campaign during his tenure as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action. His plan includes working for state and local policy changes, including targets, programmes to transition to electric vehicles, building pollution, and low carbon manufacturing.

Grassroots

It also aims to grow the climate movement at a grassroots and frontline community-level, and the election of climate champions at a local and state level who will drive forward climate change policy and mitigation strategies

Bloomberg said: “Beyond Carbon will respond to this crisis with the urgency and ambition that it requires, by taking the fight to the states and turbo-charging current on-the-ground efforts.

We will employ the same advocacy, legal, and electoral strategies that have proven so successful in retiring coal-fired power plants – which we have continued to close at the same fast rate under this administration as we did under the previous one – and also in passing gun safety background check laws in states around the country.

“This campaign will ensure that after the 2020 election, the next Administration inherits a country on its way to a 100% clean energy economy.”

The project follows Bloomberg’s moves as Mayor of New York City to deliver sustainability measures, and a previous $500m spend on climate-related initiatives to facilitate action combatting overfishing, protecting coral reefs, elevating the global adoption of climate risk disclosure and international coalitions to prevent climate change such as the Global Covenant of Mayors.

Political will

Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto said: “Hundreds of cities around [the US] are already working on solutions to the climate crisis. We have the technology to move to a 21st-century, clean energy economy – all we need is the political will to get us there.”

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation President Larry Kramer said: “The Beyond Carbon initiative embodies what philanthropists aspire towards: big, innovative ideas that engage diverse communities and people to tackle the most pressing challenges facing the world today.”

“This is the climate leadership that we require now. We have a warming planet and a White House that is trying to reverse climate progress. Meanwhile, people across the country and around the world are suffering the effects of a climate crisis they know is very real,” said Earthjustice's president Abigail Dillen.

James Evison



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