In light of the Trump administration’s plans to rescind the Clean Power Plan, former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has announced a new commitment of $64 million to support the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign and other organizations working to advance the U.S. clean energy market at the state and local level.
To date, Bloomberg has invested over $100 million in protecting the environment and public health through its support of the Beyond Coal campaign. Since 2011 – when Bloomberg Philanthropies first partnered with the campaign – nearly 50% of the country’s coal-fired power plants have announced their retirement, and deaths related to coal pollution have decreased by 42%, the organization says.
The new round of funding aims to maintain progress in the face of proposed federal rollbacks of public health and environmental regulations, including the Clean Power Plan, which would have set carbon pollution standards for power plants.
“The Trump administration has yet to realize that the war on coal was never led by Washington – and Washington cannot end it,” says Bloomberg. “It was started and continues to be led by communities in both red and blue states who are tired of having their air and water poisoned when there are cleaner and cheaper alternatives available, cities and states that are determined to clean their air and reduce their costs, and businesses seeking to lower their energy bills while also doing their part for the climate. Without any federal regulations on carbon emissions, those groups have combined with market forces to close half the nation’s coal-fired power plants over the past six years – and with this new grant, we aim to reach 60 percent by the end of 2020.”
“Mike Bloomberg’s partnership with the Sierra Club and our more than 3 million members and supporters has put our country on a path to cleaner air and cleaner water, good-paying clean energy jobs, and healthier communities that are safe from toxic coal pollution,” adds Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.
The original Bloomberg grants expanded the Sierra Club’s campaign to 45 states from 15, enforcing state and federal environmental laws and helping communities impacted by the clean energy transition to address challenges associated with closing coal plants, the organization explains.
This latest round of funding will support the Sierra Club and other groups that will engage directly with private-sector leaders, mayors, governors, legislators, utility commissioners and local officials to develop, implement and strengthen policies with broad, bipartisan support. This includes air quality standards and rules that enable solar and wind power to compete on a more level playing field. The groups include Advanced Energy Economy, Earthjustice, Energy Foundation, the Environmental Defense Fund, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
As the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, Bloomberg has advocated for cities to commit to climate-related goals. This summer, following Trump’s announced intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, Bloomberg launched America’s Pledge with California Gov. Jerry Brown. America’s Pledge is an effort to quantify the climate commitments of U.S. cities, states and businesses and report the aggregate potential of such efforts to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
This article was originally featured on solarindustrymag.com.