Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire and former mayor of New York City, intends to announce Monday an effort to shut down coal in 25 countries.
The engagement comes as world leaders arrive in Glasgow for a United Nations Summit on Climate Change where persuading countries to phase out coal, the burning of which is one of the main drivers of climate change, will be a key question. The ultimate goal: to push leaders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to avoid the worst consequences of global warming.
Bloomberg, whose 2020 Democratic presidential bid focused heavily on climate change and who now serves as special envoy for climate ambition to the United Nations, has worked to close coal plants in the United States since 2011, and two years ago dedicated $ 500 million to effort. It has been linked to the acceleration of the decommissioning of some 280 coal plants in the United States.
The new effort aims to shut down a quarter of the world’s 2,445 coal plants, as well as halt ongoing efforts to build 519 new coal plants by 2025.
“Coal is enemy number one in the battle for climate change because it causes a third of all carbon emissions,” Bloomberg said in a statement. He did not say how much money he intended to spend on the plan, but spends about $ 150 million annually on efforts to shut down coal in the United States and Europe, according to Bloomberg Philanthropies.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations has asked phase out coal energy by 2030 in rich countries and by 2040 in all other countries.
The effort will not be easy. At Group of 20 summit in Rome on Sunday, the leaders of the world’s richest economies agreed to end funding for coal-fired power plants abroad at the end of this year, according to the final text of its communiqué.
But they fell short of agreeing to stop using coal power in their own countries, with Australia, India, China and Russia pushing hard against a deadline.
“We are not committed to those kinds of mandates and prohibitions,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia said in Rome. “That is not the policy of the Australian government; it will not be the policy of the Australian government. “
China, meanwhile, has plans to build 247 gigawatts of new coal energy. That’s almost six times the total coal power capacity of Germany.
Antonios Papaspiropoulos, spokesman for the World Coal Association, said in a statement that coal is a critical energy source for hundreds of millions of people around the world.
“We believe that it is important for those calling for any phasing out of coal use to understand that coal is part of the solution to climate change through the gradual introduction of clean coal technologies,” he said.