By Michael Bloomberg* – Newsweek
Earlier this week, reporters asked me why I was in Madrid for the U.N. climate summit rather than back home on the campaign trail. The answer was simple: I went because President Donald Trump refused to go.
The president refuses to lead on climate change, so the rest of us must. He has refused to support the Paris Climate Agreement—even though Americans overwhelmingly do. He refused to pay America’s bill to help fund the climate summit, so my foundation did—just as we did the previous two years.
On Friday, I was glad to stand in solidarity with climate activists from across the country in Alexandria, Virginia—the place where our successful national work got its start. In 2011, we came to Alexandria and stood in front of a notorious, dirty, coal-fired power plant. We announced a campaign to close down that dirty plant—we got it done a year later—and other plants across America. We called our campaign Beyond Coal. Nearly a decade later, it has been called the most successful campaign of the modern environmental movement.
When we launched, our goal was to retire one-third of U.S. coal plants by 2020. So far, we’ve retired more than half—299 out of 530. And now we’ve set a goal of retiring all of them by 2030.
Trump has not stopped America’s climate movement, despite his best efforts. After he said he would pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement, I formed a group with former California Governor Jerry Brown called America’s Pledge. We’ve galvanized some 4,000 U.S. cities, states and businesses that are devoted to meeting the commitment the U.S. made under the Paris Climate Agreement.
We’ve accomplished a lot even with the Trump administration working against us. But imagine how much more we can do with a president who leads the way.
I’m running for president to defeat Trump, whose reckless and unethical behavior in the Oval Office is a threat to our values and national security, and start reuniting and rebuilding America, including by building a 100 percent clean energy economy.
In Alexandria, I set ambitious new climate goals for our country, including goals that we can actually achieve over the next eight years. First: I will push for an 80 percent reduction in electricity emissions by 2028 and 100 percent clean electricity shortly thereafter. To get it done, we’ll replace all U.S. coal plants with clean energy. We’ll replace existing gas plants, and we’ll stop the construction of new gas plants. (This is critical, because gas is now a bigger source of climate pollution than coal, and emissions from gas are growing.) We’ll put a moratorium on all new fossil-fuel leases on federal lands. And we’ll end the over $10 billion in subsidies for fossil fuel companies—no more tax loopholes, tax breaks or egregious tax deductions.
As president, I’ll accelerate America’s transition to a zero-carbon economy before 2050. Other candidates talk about 2045 or 2050—when they’re long out of office. I’m focused on delivering progress immediately. We will cut greenhouse emissions across the entire U.S. economy by 50 percent by 2030. At the same time, we will invest in technology that can move us as fast as humanly possible to a 100 percent clean energy economy, before 2050, because we have a climate crisis growing worse by the day.
We don’t know what technological advancements will occur in the future, but we can accelerate their development. To do that, I’ll quadruple our annual investment in research and development, across multiple federal agencies, and work with the private sector to unlock more private capital for clean energy investment.
Right now, Trump’s dangerous rollbacks of rules that protect clean air and drinking water are exposing millions of Americans to pollution. The people who are most at-risk are low-income Americans in both urban and rural areas. I’ll reverse those rollbacks, and federal agencies will set aggressive health and safety standards.
Communities across America—both urban and rural—have suffered from the toxic air and poisoned water that the fossil-fuel economy produced. For far too long, Washington looked the other way. As president, I will put all of the hardest-hit communities at the top of our priority list, including all those that provided us with coal for generations, at great risk and enormous cost to themselves and their families.
The American climate movement that was on display in Virginia on Friday keeps forging ahead, but success depends on nominating a candidate who can defeat a president who keeps trying to drag us backwards.
*Michael Bloomberg is a Democratic candidate for president of the United States. The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.