Michael R. Bloomberg, a billionaire businessman and the former mayor of New York City, unveiled a $500 million campaign aimed at closing every U.S. coal-fired power plant by 2030 and halting the construction of any new natural gas plants.
Entitled “Beyond Carbon” the aggressive campaign will focus its efforts on state and local government advocacy in an attempt to bypass a Congress that is in gridlock on climate change. The funding is expected to go directly towards environmental groups that will be lobbying city councils and public utility commissions as well as in helping to elect politicians that are forward thinking with pro-clean energy policies.
“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,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement before the announcement. “Mother Nature is not waiting on our political calendar, and neither can we.”
The five key focus points were outlined in the launch of the projects new website, BeyondCarbon.org, which details the importance of transitioning to 100% clean energy; replace oil burning cars and trucks with electric vehicles; phase out polluting building equipment; modernize industry and infrastructure, and repaying our debt to fossil fuel communities.
Bloomberg spoke more on his plans during the commencement address at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology saying, “Politicians keep making promises about climate change mitigation by the year 2050 — hypocritically, after they’re long gone, and no one can hold them accountable.”
Since 2010 nearly 300 coal plants — or about 40% of coal generating capacity of the United States — have either closed or announced closure. The Bloomberg plan aims to shut down the remaining 241 plants around the country by 2030.
The market shift towards renewable energy, like wind and solar as well as inexpensive natural gas, have been driving forces in starting this change naturally. The remaining plants are, mostly, well funded and up-to-date with the latest controls against pollutants and will be harder to take offline.
“Renewable energy sources, including wind and solar, are emissions-free and cheaper than coal power – and they create more jobs and enhance local economic development,” the BeyondCarbon website reads. “Electric vehicles, cheaper advanced batteries, electric heating and cooling units and other technologies mean we already have methods to readily replace most of the fossil fuels in our lives – and they will give us cheaper energy and cleaner air.”
Annie Bevan, Global Head of Sustainability for Superior Essex, said that the push to reduce fossil fuels is the most obvious place to start but there are more opportunities to focus on sustainability and the environment.
“When powerful people, like Michael Bloomberg, go beyond words and put actions in motion it sends a signal of change and it is very encouraging to everyone advocating for the planet,” Bevan said. “Reducing our dependency on fossil fuels is necessary to ensure we continue to reduce our collective impacts, but there is more work to be done.
“Building materials and what we are constructing all around us is also important. In addition to switching to renewables, and “greening the grid”, we need to consider both operational carbon impacts in the built environment as well as the embodied carbon impacts of the products within those buildings. We will hear more about embodied carbon as more people see what humans are doing to the world around us. I cannot express my gratitude to Michael Bloomberg for actually putting investment dollars toward climate change action.”
The Bloomberg investment is the largest ever philanthropic effort to combat climate change— Superior Essex Communications is excited to continue to promote and support such efforts. As a company, Superior Essex Communications is currently working toward investment in renewables, total operational carbon reductions as well as embodied carbon reductions in our products as well.