Michael Bloomberg: an ex-Wall Streeter turned media mogul who was elected the 108th mayor of New York, serving for three terms – first as a Republican, then as an Independent – between 2002 and 2013. He now acts as a UN special envoy on climate change and embraces his role as an eco-warrior. Since 2010, he has been fighting in the "war on coal", a campaign that has seen the closure of half of all US coal power plants in the space of six years. His next target: Europe.
Bloomberg has announced plans to donate $50 million to the European Climate Foundation. The money will be spent on grassroots campaigning, lawsuits against power plants seen to be breaking environmental regulation, and research into the effects of coal on public health.
As of right now, roughly 20 percent of carbon emissions from countries in the European Union (EU) comes from coal. But the tides are turning. In 2016, 86 percent of all new power added to Europe's electricity grid came from renewables; in the UK, there is now more electricity generated from solar panels than coal; and, of course, in wake of the US' withdrawal from the Paris Accord, the EU voted to make the agreement legally binding.
This announcement comes while Bloomberg is in Bonn, representing an alternative American delegation at the UN Climate Change Conference (6-17 November) alongside California Governor Jerry Brown. The group of 2,500 political and business leaders will rival the official delegation led by Trump, Pruitt, and co, who hope to influence the direction of the Paris agreement despite having made the decision to leave.
"Ending coal power production is the right thing to do, because while it may seem to be an inexpensive energy source the impact on our environment and the impact on public health is significant. Coal is a self-inflicted public health risk, polluting the air we breathe, adding mercury to the water we drink and the leading cause of climate disruption, ” said Bloomberg, in a 2011 article by Rolling Stone.
He also points out that coal isn't necessarily a cheaper source of energy.
"The war on coal has never been led by Washington. It has been led by market forces that are providing cleaner and cheaper sources of energy,” Bloomberg told journalists, as reported by Bloomberg.
In the US, Bloomberg has donated $164m to environmental groups like the Sierra Club. $64m was given after Pruitt announced the EPA would reverse the Clean Power Plan, declaring “the war on coal is over”.
Next on Bloomberg's hitlist is Asia. He says he is already looking for partners.