In 2019, businessman and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg funneled $500 million into the launch of Beyond Carbon, an initiative that aims to close all coal plants across the U.S. by 2030. Four years later, the billionaire isn’t just adding to his initial contribution—he’s doubling down.
The tenth richest person in the world with an estimated fortune of $96.3 billion, Bloomberg, 81, revealed earlier this month that he is donating another $500 million to Beyond Carbon through his foundation Bloomberg Philanthropies. The initiative has helped retire more than 70 percent of U.S. coal plants and halted more than 30 percent of planned gas capacity, contributing to an 80 percent reduction in emissions across the country.
The next phase of Beyond Carbon will focus on shutting down remaining coal plants and halving gas plant capacity over the next seven years while also working toward clean energy accounting for 80 percent of electricity generation. “By working with our partners across the country, we hope to transform the way we power America by moving beyond fossil fuels and replacing them with renewable energy,” said Bloomberg in a statement.
His partner groups include environmental organizations like Hip Hop Caucus, League of Conservation Voters and Earthjustice, the latter of which praised Bloomberg’s “new investment in critical work that carries from communities to courtrooms, from statehouses to Washington, D.C.,” in a statement from its president Abigail Dillen. Going forward, Beyond Carbon plans to fund studies and deliver data to political decision makers, use grassroots organizers and litigation to protect public health, push the Energy Regulatory Commission to remove barriers to clean energy adoption and encourage financial analysts to lobby for early retirement of coal assets, among other goals.
What is Michael Bloomberg’s environmental history?
Bloomberg, currently the United Nations Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions, has long been an advocate of retiring coal plants. He was previously involved with the Beyond Coal campaign of the Sierra Club, to which he donated $50 million in 2010.
His foundation has additionally increased its focus on opposition to the petrochemical industry, which produces plastics and fertilizers. In 2022, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced an $85 million commitment to Beyond Petrochemicals, a new campaign that halted the construction of five petrochemical plants over the last year and aims to block 120 proposed projects in Louisiana, Texas and the Ohio River Valley.
Since leaving his position as New York City mayor in 2013, the businessman has ramped up his charitable giving with an emphasis on fighting climate change, spending more than $500 million on climate-related efforts. These include a 2018 pledge of $4.5 million to the UN’s climate body and a 2021 joint £1.5 million ($1.83 million) investment with London Mayor Sadiq Khan to install air quality monitors throughout the U.K. city. Meanwhile, in 2022, Bloomberg Philanthropies joined a group of nonprofits to commit a collective $1 billion to support ocean conservation, pledging to protect 30 percent of the ocean by 2030.
The environment is one of the five key tenants of Bloomberg Philanthropies, which distributed $1.7 billion last year. And the foundation’s reach is set to become larger—in March, Bloomberg revealed that he plans to bequeath his media, finance and data company Bloomberg L.P. to the trust when he dies, if not sooner.