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Michael Bloomberg Spotlights Best Steps Now For Urgent Climate Action

UN Photo/ Mark Garten |Secretary-General António Guterres (right) with Michael R. Bloomberg (left), UN Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions, and Sean M. Decatur, president of the American Museum of Natural History.Facebook

Michael Bloomberg is a business leader, the former three-time mayor of New York City and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for climate ambition and solutions. He is also an undisputed leader in combatting climate change.

On World Environment Day, marked annually on 5 June, he joined a clarion call for climate action alongside the UN chief, who made an impassioned special address from the American Museum of Natural History.

Recognised globally for his investment in cutting carbon emissions, Mr. Bloomberg supports the Beyond Coal movement, which helped to catalyse momentum towards the clean energy transition in the United States and other countries.

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He also co-launched America’s Pledge, an initiative to quantify and report the actions of US states, cities, businesses and organizations to drive down greenhouse gas emissions in line with the legal binding 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

In an interview with UN News, Mr. Bloomberg explained how leaders can make the switch to clean energy alongside growing the economy and fighting climate change.

UN News: If you could ask successful businesspeople such as yourself to make one commitment to climate action, what would that be?

Michael Bloomberg: Business leaders know that there are enormous risks and opportunities associated with climate change and that taking action is in their companies’ best interest. There’s no shortage of ambition – more and more businesses have set ambitious goals – but action is what really matters.

The more we do to knock down barriers that stand in their way, the faster the private sector can act to turn pledges into real progress. That includes ensuring businesses and investors have the data they need to identify risks and find opportunities to cut emissions and working with leaders at every level of government to fix policies that tilt markets towards fossil fuels.

UN News: At a time when housing and food costs are spiking, for many people climate change takes a back seat. How do you change that?

Michael Bloomberg: People all around the world are already experiencing the effects of climate change. They recognise that nothing poses a greater risk to their families and communities. They want to breathe clean air and drink clean water, and they want access to clean, affordable power.

They also understand that we don’t have to choose between growing the economy and fighting climate change because they go hand in hand. The most important thing is to make our voices heard by voting for leaders who will help to lead the way.

UN News: To make a clean energy transition, what are the most important actions needed?

Michael Bloomberg: Ending coal use is the single most important thing we can do. The Secretary-General has called for ending coal power in wealthy countries by 2030, and we can reach that goal.

More than 70 per cent of US coal plants have committed to closing or have already switched to clean energy. In Europe, it’s more than half.

But, hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies still prop up fossil fuels around the world. That needs to end.

At the same time, much more clean-energy investment needs to flow to developing countries with growing economies, which is an all-hands-on-deck mission. Multinational banks can use more of their capital to draw in private investment.

Governments and business leaders can work together to identify potential projects and create new financing arrangements that reduce risks to investors. Philanthropy can help build partnerships and provide technical assistance to identify investable projects and make the economic case for clean energy.

UN News: What’s the number one thing cities can do to combat climate change or the main thing cities should be thinking about in a 1.5 degree-future?

The same steps that cut carbon emissions also make cities better, healthier places to live. There are many steps cities can take on their own to cut emissions and clean the air, like setting rules for energy efficiency and investing in mass transit and bike lanes.

The more countries do to support and empower those kinds of local action – and the more local leaders support each other by sharing great ideas – the faster we’ll make global progress.

It’s also important that cities’ potential to cut emissions is fully recognised as national governments make new commitments, as they’re required to do next year under the Paris Agreement.

Cities and other subnational groups had an official role for the first time in the history of international climate talks at last year’s COP28. It’s an important step forward, and the Secretary-General deserves a lot of credit for making it happen.

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