Michael Bloomberg will not run for president. That was the main outtake from the businessman and philanthropist’s op-ed for Bloomberg the other day. But the more important outtake was his announcement of a new climate change initiative: Beyond Carbon.
“I will launch a new, even more ambitious phase of the campaign — Beyond Carbon: a grassroots effort to begin moving America as quickly as possible away from oil and gas and toward a 100 percent clean energy economy,” Bloomberg said.
“At the heart of Beyond Carbon is the conviction that, as the science has made clear, every year matters. 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. But Mother Nature does not wait on our political calendar, and neither can we.”
Bloomberg certainly has an exemplary track record with the Beyond Coal initiative: 284 coal-fired plans retired and replaced with less polluting alternatives, removing 605 million metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere and US$3.5 billion saved in healthcare costs. Plans are to have all remaining coal-fired plants in the United States retired within the next 11 years, Bloomberg said in his op-ed.
Obviously, this sort of success would make one confident that if this is possible, then it would be possible to completely move the grid from fossil fuels to renewable energy. However, Bloomberg steered clear of giving away any details or a deadline of any sort for this initiative. Given its magnitude, it was only reasonable to do so.
The goal of this initiative is the same as the ultimate goal on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ interpretation of the idea for a New Green Deal first suggested by Tom Friedman. In this interpretation, the 100-percent renewable power, zero carbon emission economy will be the result of efforts including investment in renewable power, boosting the grid’s energy efficiency, and building smart grids that distribute affordable power, and investing in things like sustainable farming and new, emission-free, transport. Related: Vietnam’s Energy Dilemma Is About To Become A Crisis
It’s clear enough that such a massive undertaking would involve a huge amount of money. No wonder, then, that Republicans in Congress blasted the New Green Deal as “wildly unrealistic” and called it “a radical environmental policy.”
Critics do have a point. The investments needed would be massive, but proponents of the deal argue that not doing anything about climate change would cost even more over the long term. Already, extreme weather and fires over the last decade have cost the federal government some US$350 billion and these will cost the U.S. economy another US$500 billion by 2100.
Yet, according to Republicans, the Green New Deal will cost a lot more than that. The American Action Forum, a center-right organization, put the price tag at US$93 trillion. Democrats have said the figure is way too inflated but the speardriver of the bill, Ocasio-Cortez has not argued about the fact it will be quite expensive to completely switch to renewables. She has, however, offered a way to foot the bill: by raising taxes for the very wealthy to 60-70 percent. That’s another thing many have called unrealistic as people are quick to migrate if their income is being threatened by higher taxes than they can stomach.
And now here comes Bloomberg with a net worth of US$55 billion and a long experience of phasing out fossil fuel power plants. Perhaps his plan, when detailed, would sound more realistic than the Green New Deal. Whether it will be more affordable, however, is doubtful.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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