- Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pledged $500 million for a campaign designed to accelerate the country’s progress toward a 100% clean energy economy. The Beyond Carbon campaign will seek to close the nation’s remaining coal plants by 2030 and limit the expansion of natural gas.
- According to Bloomberg Philanthropies, Beyond Carbon is "the largest coordinated campaign to tackle climate change ever undertaken in the United States." The money will be spent in a variety of ways, including support for environmental groups, fostering of grassroots organizations and funding candidates on the state and local level.
- Bloomberg formally announced the project in a commencement speech Friday at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he told graduates "winning the battle against climate change will depend less on scientific advancement and more on political activism."
The massive investment builds on Bloomberg's Beyond Coal campaign, which he launched with the Sierra Club in 2011 and has contributed to the closing of 289 of the nation’s 530 coal plants. Bloomberg says that the coal goal is achievable, especially as more states push for 100% clean energy that effectively shutters the market for coal. He noted that 51 plants have closed since President Trump took office "despite all the bluster from the White House," and Trump's promotion of the coal industry.
Bloomberg's investment and speech also recognizes the lack of progress on climate change from the federal level, which has left states and cities as the primary drivers of climate action. Much of the Beyond Carbon funding will focus on the state and local level, including promoting clean energy laws, low-carbon transit funding, larger deployment of electric vehicles and clean building codes. That will build on work already being done in cities around the country, although Beyond Carbon has big aims.
Carl Pope, an adviser to Bloomberg and former executive director of the Sierra Club, told The New York Times that the campaign would work to wean the 10 states that use the most electricity away from coal and gas, which he said "actually means that every major public utility in the United States would have to go clean."
Bloomberg has already been working to boost state and local climate action through his America’s Pledge campaign with former California Gov. Jerry Brown. That effort seeks to quantify and promote the work being done by sub-national groups to uphold the U.S. commitment to the United Nations' Paris climate accord. Last month, Bloomberg announced a $2.3 million grant to study the total greenhouse gas emission reductions from state and local policies. Through Bloomberg Cities and the American Cities Climate Challenge, Bloomberg has also tried to directly fund cities to spur environmental action.