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Michael Bloomberg Wants to Wean the World from Coal by 2040

In a major announcement, the billionaire former New York City mayor unveiled a plan to close down most coal plants in developing countries.


Michael Bloomberg is no fan of coal.

The former New York City mayor and current UN Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions announced today that his philanthropic organization will work with national and local governments in 25 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America to end the use of coal by 2040.

The billionaire made the announcement at the COP27 U.N. Climate Summit in Egypt.

Bloomberg has long been an advocate for clean energy. In 2019, he donated $500 million to a campaign that shut down all coal-fired power plants in the U.S.

"We've helped to close more than two-thirds of coal plants in the U.S. and put more than half of Europe's on track for retirement – and we need to make progress like that all around the world," Bloomberg said.

His new venture does not have a price tag, but the initiative has two distinct goals.

  1. Working with national and local governments to develop energy transition plans, implement the necessary public policies, and provide the skills and training to accelerate clean energy development and phase out fossil fuel use.
  2. Partnering with the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) to help mobilize the flow of private capital to clean energy transition projects in emerging markets and developing countries.

The problem of coal dependence

Coal is the dominant source of electricity generation in most countries in Africa and Asia. But coal produces more carbon emissions than any other fuel on earth, according to the U.S. Energy Information Associating, leading to poor air quality, health, and climate.

Still, alternative fuel solutions, like wind and solar, are expensive and often out of reach for developing countries.

"Overcoming the hurdles that stand in the way of investment – requires partnership across government, business, and philanthropy," said Bloomberg. "It also requires technical assistance and economic and policy analysis – the side of energy development that doesn't get a lot of attention but can mean the difference between investment in coal and clean power."

Reaching the goals of net-zero emissions requires investment not only from governments but the private sector.

"We need to mobilize significant private capital to clean energy and the responsible accelerated retirement of coal," said Mark Carney, Co-chair of GFANZ and UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance. He says the partnership introduced by Bloomberg can "help unlock finance at the scale needed to support the energy transitions of emerging markets and developing economies."

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