Former New York City mayor and current UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Climate Action, Michael Bloomberg has announced the largest ever philanthropic effort to fight the climate crisis with a $500 million investment into a campaign to close US coal plants and halt the rush natural gas.
Speaking at the commencement address at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last Friday, Bloomberg said he would commit $500 million to the anti-fossil fuel campaign called Beyond Carbon.
The new pledge comes just one month after the American businessman committed $5.5 million to the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat to make up for the funding gap left by the failures of the current Trump administration.
Beyond Carbon will follow on from the work done by the Beyond Coal campaign, launched by the Bloomberg Foundation and the Sierra Club in 2011 with the goal of closing at least one-third of the United States' coal-fired power plants.
Eight years later, 289 of the country's 530 coal-fired power plants have been closed – more than half of the US fleet – and Beyond Carbon is entering the fray to close the remaining 241 coal plants, as well as halting the rush to build new natural gas-fired power plants.
'We're in a race against time with climate change, and yet there is virtually no hope of bold federal action on this issue for at least another two years. Mother Nature is not waiting on our political calendar, and neither can we,' said Michael Bloomberg to students at MIT.
'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 percent clean energy economy.'
We cannot wait to act on climate change. @BeyondCarbon
aims to take the fight for climate progress to the states – and to the people. My message to @MIT
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) June 7, 2019
Beyond Carbon will look to both grow the United States' climate movement through partnerships with grassroots organisations and frontline communities, and to help elect state and local 'climate champions' who will lead on climate and drive progress from the local level.
Further, Beyond Carbon will work with state and local governments to pass climate and clean energy policies such as 100% clean energy laws and targets, and timetables to phase out climate pollution.
The campaign will also look to focus on implementing programs to expand low-carbon transit models, speed up the deployment of electric vehicles, promote clean building practices, and support low-carbon manufacturing.
'The American people's concerns about the climate crisis are accelerating – and with reason,' said New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.
'Now more than ever, we need elected officials who will not shy away from or deny the reality of the crises we face, a warming climate foremost among them. We're lucky to have Mike Bloomberg and his Beyond Carbon initiative working to build momentum as we collectively do the work necessary to preserve our planet for our grandkids and their grandkids. There's no time to waste.'
Since his exit from New York City Hall in 2013, Michael Bloomberg has spent $500 million driving a number of climate-related efforts, including the formation of the America's Pledge, C40, and Global Covenant of Mayors coalitions.
Bloomberg has also been involved in elevating the global adoption of climate risk disclosure through the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), as well as bringing stories of community-led climate action to light through a book written with Carl Pop entitled Climate of Hope
, and two documentaries entitled 'From the Ashes' and 'Paris to Pittsburgh'.
'When mayors see a problem, we don't just sit around – we get to work,' said Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto.
'Climate change is no different. Hundreds of cities around the country 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. Thanks to Mike Bloomberg's continued leadership and his record of success in fostering non-federal climate action, Beyond Carbon will result in success for the country – and the world.'