Key Takeaways:

The former mayor of New York City and the world’s ninth richest man, Michael Bloomberg, announced earlier this month that he will donate $500 million to a new nationwide campaign called Beyond Carbon, which aims to shutter all U.S. coal-fired power plant in operation.  Bloomberg said Washington’s failure to act on climate change requires local and state governments to aggressively step up, and outside funds could help drive the process.

Bloomberg made the announcement during an MIT graduation commencement

“We’re in a race against time with climate change, and yet there is virtually no hope of bold federal action on this issue for at least another two years. Mother Nature is not waiting on our political calendar, and neither can we,” Bloomberg said before making the announcement during an MIT graduation commencement address. The money will help elect lawmakers who champion the clean energy transition, and will fund environmental groups lobbying city councils, state legislatures and public utilities to shutter America’s remaining coal plants and replace them with wind, solar and other renewable power.

Public Momentum toward a path to 100% renewables

Bloomberg’s announcement builds on growing public momentum toward a path to 100% renewables, injecting capital into growing grassroots and community-led efforts that are helping drive the energy transition. Free-market forces—namely cheap natural gas and the falling price for wind and solar—have so far led the process. By helping to fund political campaigns that prioritize climate solutions, Bloomberg is staking out new territory as a billionaire media tycoon committed to funding the nation’s switch to clean energy.

According to Carl Pope, a Bloomberg adviser who served as the executive director of the Sierra Club from 1992 to 2010, the ability to move the top 10 energy-consuming states—led by Texas, Pennsylvania and Florida—towards 100% renewable generation will be key to success. “If you move those 10 states decisively toward 100 percent renewable electricity, that actually means that every major public utility in the United States would have to go clean,” Pope said.


What We’re Reading: “Michael Bloomberg Promises $500 Million to Help End Coal,” as published in The New York Times