Michael Bloomberg expands ‘war on coal’ campaign to Europe with $50 million donation
On Thursday, UN special envoy on climate change and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg announced a $50 million fund to extend the battle against coal to Europe.
Michael Bloomberg has invested more than $164 million to fight coal in the US since 2010, especially through Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.
His latest commitment came this October with the announcement of his biggest, so far, donation of $64 million in the wake of US federal policies to revive the coal industry.
The European campaign will be administered by the European Climate Foundation, which is led by Laurence Tubiana, France’s climate change ambassador during the COP21 negotiations in Paris.
Mrs. Tubiana commented: “Europe still relies significantly on coal for power generation, but the rapid pace of development in cheap renewables offers a great opportunity”.
“Together with Bloomberg Philanthropies, we can help change the course of history and drive Europe’s shift to a cleaner, healthier and more prosperous future”.
Michael Bloomberg told The Guardian: “Coal is the single biggest polluter. If you could just replace coal with any other fuel, you would make an enormous difference in the outlook for climate change”.
His commitment to ending the use of coal worldwide comes not only by arguing that it is among the fossil fuel with the biggest global warming potential (GWP), but also due to air pollution and health hazards associated with the combustion of coal.
“If you live downstream of a coal-fired power plant your life expectancy is significantly shorter. This initiative will help to speed progress and save many lives”, he said.
Michael Bloomberg also revealed that he is eager to expand the campaign against coal to Asia and that he is currently seeking for partners to proceed.
Coal comprises the biggest share of the region’s energy mix and is projected to continue to be despite concerns over air pollution and climate change.
On the argument that coal-fired plants constitute the most cost-effective and quickest way to power communities without access to electricity, Mr. Bloomberg commented: “Number one, it is not the cheapest or quickest, and number two, how many people are you going to kill [with air pollution]?”.
Claire Perry, UK Climate Change Minister welcomed the new European campaign against coal by stating that the UK was “one of the first countries in the world to commit to phasing out unabated coal-fired power generation by 2025 and we encourage other nations to follow our lead”.
Jonathan Marshall, Energy Analyst at UK’s Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit warned that it will be difficult to accelerate progress against coal in places such as Germany, Poland, and Turkey.