Climate Solutions Abound
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pushing foreign leaders not to follow President Trump’s lead on climate change.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Bloomberg said other countries should continue pursuing the goals laid out in the international Paris climate accord, regardless of whether Trump pulls the U.S. out of the pact, something the White House is still considering.
“Washington won’t determine the fate of our ability to meet our Paris commitment,” said Bloomberg, who in 2014 was appointed a United Nations special envoy on climate change.
“And what a tragedy it would be if the failure to understand led to an unraveling of the agreement. We hope this book will help to correct that wrong impression — and help save the Paris deal.”
Bloomberg and former Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope are releasing a book about climate change, which he said is not a political statement but rather a way to urge citizens and policymakers to focus more on the environment.
He said there was no political motive tied to his new book, “Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet.”
“I’m not running for office,” Bloomberg told the Associated Press. The 75-year-old billionaire, who has championed liberal causes despite his political independence, repeatedly mulled presidential runs during his tenure as New York’s mayor.
Instead of helping to re-ignite his political career, he said the new book offered a specific policy objective: To help save an international agreement, negotiated in Paris, to reduce global carbon emissions.
The Trump administration is debating whether to abandon the pact as the president promised during his campaign. Under the agreement, the U.S. pledged that by 2025 it would reduce its annual greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels, which would be a reduction of about 1.6 billion tons.
Bloomberg said he believed the U.S. would hit that goal regardless of what Trump does because of leadership at the state level and market forces already at play in the private sector.
“Washington won’t determine the fate of our ability to meet our Paris commitment,” he said in an email Saturday to the AP. “And what a tragedy it would be if the failure to understand that led to an unraveling of the agreement. We hope this book will help to correct that wrong impression – and help save the Paris deal.”
Bloomberg already plays a significant role in shaping some of the nation’s fiercest policy debates, having invested millions of dollars in one advocacy group that pushes for stronger gun control and another that promotes liberal immigration policies. In the new book, which follows what a spokeswoman described as $80 million in donations to the Sierra Club in recent years, the New York businessman solidifies his status as a prominent climate change advocate as well.
His policy repertoire aligns him with core values of the Democratic Party, although the Democrat-turned-Republican-turned independent has no formal political affiliation.
In the interview, Bloomberg shrugged off conservatives who condemn him as a paternalistic New York elitist. He noted that policies he helped initiate in New York City – including a smoking ban and high taxes on sugary drinks – have eventually caught on elsewhere.
“My goal has been to save and improve lives,” he said. “Some ways of doing that can be controversial at first, but end up being highly popular and successful.”
Bloomberg’s book reportedly takes aim at the coal sector, of which he writes, “I don’t have much sympathy for industries whose products leave behind a trail of diseased and dead bodies … for everyone’s sake, we should aim to put them out of business.”
Bloomberg told the AP he will donate $3 million to groups that help out-of-work coal miners find jobs and distressed coal country communities revive their local economies.
He avoided condemning the Trump administration directly, however, largely casting the new president’s steps on climate change as irrelevant. The White House declined to comment when asked about Bloomberg’s statements.
“As it turns out, Trump’s election makes the book’s message – that the most important solutions lie outside of Washington – even more important and urgent,” Bloomberg said.