Michael Bloomberg pledges $500 million to shutter all remaining US coal plants in clean energy push

To combat climate change, the former New York mayor throws his weight behind an effort to close coal plants by 2030

Published June 7, 2019 4:07PM (EDT)

Michael Bloomberg (Getty/Lukas Schulze)
Michael Bloomberg (Getty/Lukas Schulze)

In an effort to combat climate change nationally, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged $500 million to fund a new initiative that would shutter all remaining coal-fired power plants in the U.S. by 2030.

"I’m committing $500 million to launch @BeyondCarbon the largest-ever coordinated campaign to tackle the climate crisis our country has ever seen," Bloomberg tweeted Thursday. "This is the fight of our time."

The billionaire's investment in the Beyond Carbon initiative marks the largest-ever philanthropic effort to tackle climate change in the U.S. The campaign is an outgrowth of an ongoing Bloomberg Philanthropies and Sierra Club campaign known as Beyond Coal, which Bloomberg launched in 2011 in partnership with the environmental organization.

The Beyond Coal initiative aims to shift the country on the path to a completely clean energy economy "and ensure that after the 2020 election, the next Administration inherits a country already well on the way to a full clean energy economy."

Bloomberg noted that more than 280 of the nation's 530 coal plants have retired or announced they would close operations since 2010. His campaign hopes to close the other 241 plants by 2020.

The billionaire and philanthropist has been committed to reducing fossil fuel in order to tackle climate change for years. As mayor of New York City, he launched an initiative to encourage businesses, universities and other private organizations to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from their offices by up to 40 percent over a ten period. Last year, he was appointed special envoy for climate action by the U.N.

Bloomberg's spokesman told the New York Times in a statement that most of the money would be spent over a three-year period and go toward funding lobbying efforts by environmental groups in state and city governments and public utility commissions. Some of the cash will also go toward efforts to elect local officials focused on clean energy.

Bloomberg's plan comes as more and more 2020 presidential candidates release their own policies to combat climate change – an issue that is certain to play a key role in next year's election cycle. The former New York City mayor announced in March that he would not enter the crowded Democratic primary field and will instead focus on pushing the country "toward a 100 percent clean energy economy" and away from natural gas, oil and coal.

"While there would be no higher honor than serving as president, my highest obligation as a citizen is to help the country the best way I can, right now," Bloomberg explained at the time in an opinion piece published on his eponymous news network. "Mother Nature does not wait on our political calendar, and neither can we."

President Donald Trump, for his part, has vowed to champion the coal industry and revive what he has called "clean, beautiful coal."

By Shira Tarlo

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