Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced a $50 million commitment aimed at catalyzing international efforts to shift economies from coal-dependent power to renewable energy sources.
To be led by the European Climate Foundation, the initiative will support ongoing efforts to accelerate Europe's transition to coal-free energy in an economically just and well-managed fashion. In partnership with ECF, Bloomberg Philanthropies will launch the project initially in Europe and later expand it to other countries and regions. According to the foundation, the European Union as a whole still generates more than 21 percent of its power from coal, with Germany, Poland, and the United Kingdom accounting for more than half the coal power plant capacity in the EU. Despite the introduction of new emission limits, pollution from coal plants contribute to an estimated twenty thousand premature deaths and tens of thousands of cases of respiratory illness annually.
The announcement represents the first investment in efforts to reduce coal dependency outside the United States by Michael R. Bloomberg, Bloomberg Philanthropies founder, former New York City mayor, and UN special envoy for cities and climate change. In October, Bloomberg committed an additional $64 million to the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, which has contributed to the mothballing of more than 50 percent of U.S. coal plants since 2011.
"The Beyond Coal campaign has helped make the U.S. the world leader in reducing carbon emissions and will bring us 60 percent of the way to our Paris Agreement goal," said Bloomberg. "By helping civil society to scale up this work internationally, we can help other countries reach and exceed their climate goals and reduce the amount of death and disease caused by coal plants. A growing number of European countries have made plans to go 100 percent coal-free, which sets a great example for the rest of the world — but coal still kills around twenty thousand people in the EU each year. This initiative will help to speed progress — and save many lives."
(Photo credit: Arnold Paul)