The move made at the beginning of this week, by billionaire philanthropist Michael Bloomberg is stunning in both its generosity, but also in its clarity. He has pledged $500 million to fight CO2, coal and gas in a battle for hearts and minds across the US.
But it is the manner that the money will be spent, and that is tactically, and not just thrown at some impossible carbon sequestering program. The campaign is dubbed “Beyond Carbon” and it aims to close every US coal-fired power plant by 2030, and to put a stop on the construction of any new natural gas plants in America. He has already funded a prior campaign Beyond Coal, which ahs been active for some years.
Bloomberg will pile the money into opposing the “climate change deniers” of the world, funding lobbying efforts at the state and city level across America including within councils and public utility commissions. He will use the money to get pro-clean energy politicians elected. All the money will be available over the next three years.
He plans to tie up the EPA in the courts as it tries to rollback regulations regarding carbon pollution and to protect air and water. He claims to have already shut down 289 coal-fired power plants since 2011, including 51 since the 2016 presidential election.
It is time that someone levelled up the playing field and opposed to two Koch brothers Charles and David, who have spent $100s of millions in the name of coal and oil industries, working secretively behind the scenes of hundreds of non-profits who oppose environmentalism.
Quite clearly Bloomberg feels the need to put up a decent chunk of his own personal fortune, to counter the effect that President Donald Trump has had on climate science and government policy. If it had not been for the democrats winning heavily in the mid-term elections, and for states standing up to Trump, the increase in US CO2 would have been far worse than it is. So Bloomberg clearly wants to bolster those highly local efforts.
He outlined his plan at the Global Climate Action Summit at MIT last week.
Here’s an excerpt of his speech, “Those in Washington who deny the science of climate change are no more based in reality than those who believe the moon landing was faked. And while the moon landing conspiracy theorists are relegated to the paranoid corners of talk radio, climate skeptics occupy the highest positions of power in the United States government.
“Now, in the administration’s defense: climate change, they say, is only a theory. Yeah, like gravity is only a theory.
“People can ignore gravity at their own risk, at least until they hit the ground. But when they ignore the climate crisis they are not only putting themselves at risk, they are putting all humanity at risk.”
And he finished by pointing out that for the foreseeable future, winning the battle against climate change will depend less on science and more on political activism. In the US this is definitively true.
We know for sure that the US investment community is keen on renewables, because it funds many such moves in Europe. Given the chance US investors would love to do in the US, what they have been able to in Europe – which is to make good money, easily, on an investment they feel good about.
Bloomberg then repeated stories that we have covered in this and other renewable energy services, successes in replacing gas turbines, the installation of a record number of grid scale batteries, and plans by states to go 100% renewable by 2050.
He seems very much in touch with the day to day battles in what he must see as a political war. We will continue to report with interest.