ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg on Friday unveiled a climate plan to slash U.S. carbon emissions by 50% in ten years, by slapping tougher pollution standards on new gas-fired power plants and replacing coal with cleaner energy sources like wind and solar.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg speaks during a panel at the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain, December 10, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo
The plan catches the billionaire former New York City mayor up to a crowded field of Democratic presidential hopefuls that have already detailed aggressive plans to eliminate U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, tapping into what has become a crucial issue for Democratic voters.
Bloomberg announced his candidacy last month, putting him among 15 Democrats vying to take on Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election.
“The president refuses to lead on climate change, so the rest of us must,” Bloomberg said in a release, referring to Trump – who has expressed doubts about the science of climate change, has rolled back climate regulations to boost drilling, and has moved to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement – an international accord to fight global warming.
Bloomberg’s plan would target 80% clean energy by 2028, and would be the first of several schemes to move the country toward 100% clean energy as fast as possible, ideally before 2045, his campaign said.
It would do so by setting stringent pollution limits on new gas-fired plants, and by ending all subsidies for fossil fuels. Meanwhile, it would create incentives to improve clean-energy technology and invest in poor communities impacted by fossil fuel pollution, or that are struggling to transition to a cleaner energy economy.
It would also encourage satellite companies to detect leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from worldwide oil and gas operations – and monitor and publicize the leaks.
Antha Williams, an adviser to Bloomberg, said climate action will also be integrated into all of Bloomberg’s plans, including economic development, agriculture and foreign policy.
Bloomberg has been active on climate change for years. In 2011, he helped the Sierra Club, a nonprofit green group, launch Beyond Coal, a campaign pressuring U.S. coal plants to shut. He has also funded America’s Pledge, a coalition of states, cities and business leaders committed to honoring the 2015 Paris Agreement.
While activists including Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg have accelerated a movement pressuring world leaders to curb climate change, energy companies like Shell (RDSa.L) have said investments in gas and oil will make sense for decades as customers demand the fuels.
Reporting by Timothy Gardner; editing by Richard Valdmanis and Nick Zieminski