We have all been watching the lack of initiative of the Trump administration in addressing climate change. This does not mean there is not a lot of good action happening in the country. Dino Grandoni writes in the Washington Post about the initiatives taken by former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Trump isn’t fully funding a U.N. climate program. So Michael Bloomberg is.
When Michael Bloomberg announced he was not running for president, the 77-year-old former New York mayor said would rather spend his remaining days (and considerable wealth) addressing issues dear to him — including climate change.
On Earth Day, Bloomberg put his money where his mouth is.
The businessman-turned-politician-turned-philanthropist announced Monday that he will donate $5.5. million to the climate agency of the United Nations, filling in a funding gap left by the Trump administration after it said it would withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord.
For a billionaire such as Bloomberg, that amount of money put toward the U.N.’s Climate Change Secretariat may amount to a drop in the bucket. But the donation is the latest in a series of donations to help global climate efforts from the former mayor, who has emerged as a major political and environmental donor after leaving office in 2013.
This is the second year in a row that Bloomberg has helped fund the operating costs of the U.N. climate office.
The administration of President Barack Obama, who helped broker the landmark international climate agreement a year before Trump’s election, initially promised to put up $15 million through 2019 toward those U.N. efforts.
“We are really making good on our promise — really on the U.S. commitment previously from the Obama administration,” said Shara Mohtadi, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ environment program liaison to the United Nations.
Still, under Obama, the United States had pledged a total of $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, the main U.N. vehicle for aiding poor countries’ efforts to combat climate change. Trump’s commitment to withdraw from the Paris agreement means the United States will not pay the $2 billion it still owes.
Under Trump, that funding from the federal government had been scaled back to just $2.5 million last year, with another $2.5 million expected this year, according to Bloomberg Philanthropies. Bloomberg’s donations over the past two years will fill in that $10 million shortfall.
The donations to the United Nations constitute a remarkable instance of a private individual replacing funding once promised by the federal government — one that highlights the urgency some technocrats such as Bloomberg feel about the climate issue.
“The idea of a Green New Deal — first suggested by the columnist Tom Friedman more than a decade ago — stands no chance of passage in the Senate over the next two years,” Bloomberg wrote in a March op-ed explaining his decision not to run for president. “But Mother Nature does not wait on our political calendar, and neither can we.”
Bloomberg’s spending seems to have only accelerated since Trump’s election. Bloomberg Philanthropies, the former mayor’s charitable arm, has plowed tens of millions of dollars into various activities meant to reduce climate-warming emissions since 2016.
The spending includes $70 million for efforts by 20 U.S. city mayors to reduce their carbon emissions, $64 million to the Sierra Club and other groups to try to shut down domestic coal-fired power plants and another $50 million to help other nations move away from coal.
And those totals do not include the tens of millions Bloomberg personally gave last year to help Democrats flip the House.