Michael Bloomberg sinks half a billion dollars to shut down this controversial industry

Years ago, a rich person or company would indicate wealth by donating libraries and orphanages or traverse the world in bespoke yachts or aircraft.

You may commission a boat to extract an enemy submarine off the depths of the ocean floor. Perhaps you’d get an ivy league school of public policy and government named in your honor. If you were really industrious, you might even gather a bunch of your high-powered banker friends in a locked room on a distant island off the coast of Georgia to establish what we now call the Federal Reserve. 

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Nowadays, however, it’s quite in vogue to gather large stockpiles of your cash and put it to work not for your people or your country. Billionaires think much bigger than that. If you’re really rich, you put your money to work for the good of planet Earth. 

Take, for example, Microsoft  (MSFT) – Get Free Report and Amazon  (AMZN) – Get Free Report, who both recently pledged hundreds of millions of dollars between the two to capture carbon out of the atmosphere and dispose of it where it may no longer be accessed. 

Businessman and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the latest billionaire to take a stab at the seemingly unsolvable climate crisis – and he’s putting a vast sum of his money up to the challenge. 

Aerial view of Jon Amos Power plant shows smoke stacks and cooling, Coal, Poca, West Virginia. (Photo by: Visions of America/Joseph Sohm/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Getty Images

Michael Bloomberg pledges millions to fight coal

Bloomberg’s charitable organization, Bloomberg Philanthropies, announced on Wednesday that it would front $500 million to shut down all existing coal plants in the U.S. and prevent future natural gas plants from being constructed. 

The pledge may sound anti-industrialist, but Bloomberg’s “Beyond Carbon” initiative claims it will “turbocharge,” environmental progress. 

The initiative includes the following bullet points: 

  • Finish the job on coal. With 372 of 530 coal plants announced to retire or closed to date – more than 70 percent of the country’s coal fleet – this next phase will shut down every last U.S. coal plant.
  • Slash gas plant capacity in half, and block all new gas plants.
  • Increase U.S. clean energy four-fold. Accelerate the clean energy transition to reach the goal of 80 percent of total electricity generation.

“Bloomberg Philanthropies has helped retire more than 70 percent of all U.S. coal plants, which accounts for more than 80 percent of all emissions reductions in the United States since 2010,” Bloomberg, who’s a special envoy on climate ambition and solutions to the U.N. proudly announced on Wednesday. 

Beyond Carbon will also fund the following organizations as a part of its mission toward progress: 

  • Earthjustice
  • Hip Hop Caucus
  • Sierra Club
  • RMI
  • League of Conservation Voters
  • Advanced Energy United
  • Coalfield Development

No stranger to controversy, Bloomberg has supported a number of divisive policies during his tenure in the public eye, including calls for banning polystyrene foam that is commercially known as Styrofoam, smoking, trans fats, and restricting sugary drinks in some public businesses. 

Now, it seems the billionaire is more concerned about climate change as a threat to public health than fat or soda. 

“This work has helped achieve more than 80 percent of all U.S. emissions reductions since 2010 and plant closures from the campaigns are estimated to have saved 49,900 lives, prevented nearly 77,500 heart attacks, and saved billions in healthcare costs,” Bloomberg Philanthropies writes.

“But the U.S. is now at a pivotal moment — without rapid progress on clean energy, we will fail to meet our U.S. climate targets, and public health risks will skyrocket. Beyond Carbon’s next phase will ensure the U.S. delivers on our global climate commitments by retiring the last remaining coal plants, stopping the expansion of natural gas, and quadrupling clean energy capacity while continuing to prioritize environmental justice and workforce transition.” Michael Bloomberg sinks half a billion dollars to shut down this controversial industry

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