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Bloomberg’s climate plan doesn’t set him apart from other 2020 candidates

The billionaire and former NYC mayor avoids controversial carbon-reduction strategies

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Democratic Presidential Candidate Mike Bloomberg Speaks On Climate Change At The American Geophysical Union Conference
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg has just released his plan for taking action on climate change. For now, it sticks to familiar goals that most Democratic presidential candidates share: re-committing to the Paris climate accord and slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The billionaire candidate says he wants a “100% clean-energy future” as soon as possible. To get there, he set a shorter-term deadline of cutting the emissions that contribute to climate change in half over the next ten years. Those timelines are roughly in line with benchmarks that scientists on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have said are necessary to meet, in order to keep climate change from reaching a devastating tipping point.

“100% clean-energy future”

Back in March, Bloomberg declared that he was not running for President, preferring at the time to focus his energy on shutting down all coal plants in the country in the next 11 years. While his presidential ambitions have clearly shifted, the candidate still sees no future for coal, promising in his plan to replace the last 251 coal plants in the US with cleaner energy. He also wants to stop building new gas plants and end all fossil fuel subsidies.

In a crowded primary field, Bloomberg hasn’t laid anything out that would set him apart from the pack when it comes to tackling climate change. Bloomberg’s plan so far is lighter on details compared to other leading candidates. Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders all include targets on making buildings more sustainable and cutting down emissions from transportation. Bloomberg doesn’t get into those specifics yet, but his campaign says this won’t be the only set of proposals he makes.

Notably, Bloomberg avoids topics that have polarized Democrats. He doesn’t endorse the Green New Deal, a sweeping set of environmental and social policy proposals introduced as a resolution from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) earlier this year. Controversial strategies for reducing emissions, including nuclear energy and technologies that capture carbon from the atmosphere, are not mentioned in the plan.

Over the years, the businessman, philanthropist, and former mayor of New York City has taken plenty of environmental positions that provide a little more insight into his thinking. In 2017, he called carbon capture technologies “total bullshit” and “a figment of the imagination.” He wrote in March (when he said he would not run for president) that the Green New Deal “stands no chance of passage in the Senate over the next two years.” Recently, he’s been at the forefront of efforts to get cities to step up their climate ambitions in lieu of President Trump backtracking on the environmental progress of previous administrations.

outside of climate change, Bloomberg has faced scrutiny

On environmental concerns outside of climate change, Bloomberg has faced scrutiny. His new plan says that he’ll strengthen clean air and water rules and tighten health pollutant standards. But a report from The Huffington Post published today laid out Bloomberg’s checkered record on tackling lead poisoning during his tenure as New York City’s mayor. He vetoed a bill meant to strengthen protections against lead paint poisoning in 2003. And a 2018 investigation from The New York Times found that lead paint inspections by the City’s Housing Authority stopped under Bloomberg’s administration.