Michael Bloomberg is pouring nearly a quarter-billion dollars into supporting the clean energy transition abroad.
The billionaire and former mayor of New York has spent the past decade funding efforts to end coal in the U.S. On Tuesday, he took the campaign international with a pledge to invest $242 million in 10 countries. The investment represents the first phase of Bloomberg’s commitment at the Glasgow climate talks to help shut down coal production in 25 countries, buying out existing plants if necessary and stopping efforts underway to build new ones.
The 10 countries in this round of investments include Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Turkey and Vietnam. According to Climatescope data, these 10 countries have around 100 gigawatts of the world’s coal power plant capacity. More importantly, they have another 75 gigawatts of coal power under construction or in the planning phase. (For reference, the world has around 2,100 gigawatts of total coal capacity.)
Coal is among the most climate-damaging ways to generate electricity, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released earlier this year found that its use must decline 95% by 2050 to keep the 1.5-degree-Celsius target within reach. Wind and solar are increasingly cheaper ways to generate electricity in nearly all of the countries Bloomberg is targeting. The money could go toward research, public engagement, policy support, clean energy pilot programs and coal plant buyouts.
The announcement came at Tuesday’s Sustainable Energy for All forum, which is aimed at accelerating the transition to renewables beyond countries like the U.S. where it has already gotten a headstart. Bloomberg Philanthropies will work with SEForAll and ClimateWorks Foundation, among others, to ensure the clean energy revolution doesn't leave anyone behind.
Bloomberg has committed $500 million to close every coal-fired power plant in the U.S. and worked in Europe as well. That campaign has proven wildly successful, which makes the prospect of taking it international promising.
“We’ve already helped close more than two-thirds of U.S coal plants, and more than half of Europe’s, faster than almost anyone thought was possible, while also reaping economic benefits,” Bloomberg said in a press release. “We have to spread that success around the world, especially in developing countries that have contributed the least to the climate crisis but are facing the most severe effects.”
Wealthy countries have also said they'd help developing countries cut coal, though the follow-through has been mediocre at best. The next climate talks will be held in Egpyt and could see rich countries forced to pony up more money to help. Bloomberg Philanthropies has its eye on the meetings as well and said it will be announcing a series of investments and initiatives “to help fulfill Africa’s potential to lead the global energy transition” in the run-up to the talks in November.