By Patti Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies
Six years ago, I attended a meeting in New York City, hosted by then-United States Secretary of State John Kerry. Its goal was to organize a global summit dedicated to saving our ocean from the devastating effects of over-fishing, pollution, and climate change. That meeting led to the first Our Ocean conference, which took place a few months later in Washington, D.C.
This week, I traveled to Oslo to attend the 6th annual convening of Our Ocean, and after spending time with so many like-minded partners and leaders from across sectors and around the world, I’m more optimistic than ever about what’s possible for the global movement to protect the ocean.
By Antha Williams, Head of Environmental Programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies
As urban populations around the world continue to grow, the impacts of air pollution on our health are becoming more and more clear. Cities are now home to the majority of the planet’s residents and responsible for 70% of carbon emissions, and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 91% of city residents around the world breathe air that exceeds the safety limits for pollution.
In recent years, the transportation sector has become the leading source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the U.S., accounting for approximately 29 percent of total annual emissions.  Additionally, the transportation system is a major contributor to increased air pollution that negatively impacts our health – and, with the volitale nature of our oil markets, oil’s monopoly on our transportation sector also threatens our economy. The problem is clear: a gas-guzzling transportation sector presents risks to our economy, public health, and environment.
The celebration of graduates across the world serve as a reminder never to doubt that young people have the power to change the world. Mike Bloomberg spoke to the graduating class of 2019 at the University of Maryland. He remarked how in order to meet the challenges of our time, we must be willing to take risks in defiance of long odds. Additionally, he announced a $2.3 million dollar commitment to support research illustrating U.S. progress towards Paris Agreement goals.
By Antha N. Williams of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Environment team
New York City has sparked debate across the country over its decision to use congestion pricing to accelerate and help fund the adoption of low-carbon transportation. Now, several other cities in the U.S., including DC, Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle, are starting to explore the potential for this bold action to advance their own climate and livability efforts.
Last week, the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge brought together more than 100 of the country’s foremost city sustainability leaders for a three-day convening in Austin. Participants represented a robust network of world-class partners, dedicated city officials, and leading policy experts who all share one common goal: fight climate change on a local level to create healthier, more resilient, and more sustainable communities for city residents.
Del Carmen Mayor Coro II is a coastal mayor whose life and constituency are anchored to the sea and Rocky Sanchez Tirona spearheads Rare’s initiative to revitalize the Philippines’ marine life and the dependent coastal communities. Can their common agenda inspire all 900+ of the Philippines’ coastal mayors to commit to protecting the people and their precious resources—before it’s too late?
Together with key partners – TERI, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, CSTEP, WRI India, and ADRI – Bloomberg Philanthropies will work to support India’s National Clean Air Program by developing better data and understanding of the sources of air pollution in the country. We’ll also work closely with a group of Indian cities to develop clean air action plans aimed at tackling air pollution at the local level.
Today in Paris, Mayor Anne Hidalgo is convening mayors, business leaders, and others to bring attention to a troubling problem: While women globally are more impacted by climate change than men, they’re underrepresented at decision-making levels in government. The good news is, that’s changing. The Women4Climate gathering in Paris is part of a C40 Cities effort to empower and inspire a new generation of women leaders taking on this issue around the world. A report released this month outlines strategies for boosting women’s leadership in climate action and identifies data gaps that need to be filled to better understand the gender dimensions of climate change in cities. Meanwhile, in the U.S., some of the boldest leadership on climate is coming from women mayors. Here are five who recently won the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge because of their efforts to reduce climate pollution from the transportation and buildings sectors.
Inspired by our most recent film, Paris to Pittsburgh, National Geographic launched a new Your Shot photo assignment, calling for citizen photographers to document local climate leadership in their communities for the chance to be featured online on National Geographic’s digital platform.
This episode of the podcast features a conversation with Katie Orlinsky, National Geographic Photographer and Your Shot Editor and Katherine Oliver, of Bloomberg Philanthropies and executive producer of Paris to Pittsburgh.
This year, we’ve been able to get an inside look at an important question: How ready are American cities to fight climate change? The answer is important to the future of our planet. Globally, cities are the source of 70 percent of all greenhouse-gas emissions, particularly via the cars urban dwellers drive and the energy required to heat and cool their buildings. U.S. cities are responsible for a disproportionate share of the total.
Our inside look came through the Bloomberg Philanthropies American Cities Climate Challenge. It’s a $70 million effort aimed at accelerating work already happening on the ground in U.S. cities to reduce carbon pollution. More than 50 cities applied, and as co-leaders of the initiative, we visited almost 40 of them.
Fulfilling America’s Pledge – Climate Mayors, 20 Leading Cities, and New Partnerships Lead America’s Electric Transportation Future
This past month the United States sold its one-millionth electric car (more than 4 million have been sold globally). The event marks a significant milestone and demonstrates that mobility in the U.S. is on the threshold of a major technological transition to an electric mobility future. This monumental transportation transition is coupled with unprecedented levels of subnational engagement on climate change. Leadership on climate change and clean transportation is increasingly coming from states and cities who have come forward to uphold the Paris Climate Accord in the face of federal resistance.
Fulfilling America’s Pledge – How Cities are Taking Charge in the Next Wave of Clean Energy Procurement
By Alexandra Rotatori, Rocky Mountain Institute and Celina Bonugli, World Resources Institute
Cities in the United States are uniquely positioned to spur growth in demand for renewable energy procurement, accelerate the transition to a clean energy system, and provide visible and practical examples for the country as whole. By demonstrating to states, regions, and the federal government that it is possible to take practical, actionable steps to decarbonize electricity use, city leaders have the potential to inspire impact far beyond their limited jurisdictions. (Case in point: the Washington, D.C., City Council just unanimously voted “yes” to require 100 percent of the district’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2032—against a background of political gridlock at the federal level.)
Fulfilling America’s Pledge on Climate Change Means Turning Data-Driven Research into Real World Action
By Carla Frisch, Principal at Rocky Mountain Institute
In the United States, as in every country around the world, opportunities for climate leadership exist at every level of governance. So despite what the headlines may say about current inaction on climate change at the federal level, businesses, cities, and states are laying the groundwork for America’s low carbon future. The thousands of day-to-day investment decisions made by businesses, local solutions implemented by mayors and city councils, and win-win energy and environmental policies set by state governors and legislatures are adding up.
Launched in July 2017 in response to President Trump’s announced intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate, the America’s Pledge initiative has developed a comprehensive model for transformation across all major sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, including electricity, buildings, transportation, industrial gases, and natural lands.
The Bloomberg Philanthropies Vibrant Oceans Initiative is the largest philanthropic commitment to internationally reform small-scale fisheries management. At last month’s 5th Annual Our Ocean Conference in Indonesia, UN Special Envoy for Climate Action Michael R. Bloomberg announced the expansion of the Vibrant Oceans Initiative, dedicating $86 million to support coastal communities across 10 countries, including Australia, Fiji, Indonesia, Tanzania, Peru and the US. The announcement marks the second phase of the initiative, expanding efforts into new countries.
The Bloomberg Philanthropies Vibrant Oceans Initiative is the largest philanthropic commitment to internationally reform small-scale fisheries management. One of our partners, Rare, specializes in local fishing reforms, targeting some of the 12 million small-scale fishers that operate 15km from shore.
The C40 Climate Leadership Group has been helping cities achieve climate goals for over a decade, and their climate planning tools are now public and available to all.
IMT’s Julie Hughes says, “Cities are not only being bold and visionary in their commitments; they’re being strategic and pragmatic, developing and implementing plans in a data-informed method. It’s essential. We can’t afford to take steps that we think will achieve our climate goals. We need confidence in our approaches; we need to deliberately choose actions based on strong data.”
A partner in the American Cities Climate Challenge, the NRDC’s Kimi Narita shares her thoughts on why cities should apply to the American Cities Climate Challenge.
Today is World Oceans Day – a time to raise awareness and encourage action to protect our critical global resources. At Bloomberg Philanthropies, we work to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people, and that mission is the bedrock of our oceans program.
Fish is the main source of animal protein – healthier and more affordable than beef, chicken, or pork – for more than one billion people around the world. Unfortunately this vital food source is threatened by overfishing and destructive fishing practices. While the supply of fish is decreasing, demand continually increases—with the world’s population expected to grow by two billion people within the next two decades. Without proper management of our oceans, we will continue to destroy coral reefs and marine ecosystems, and jeopardize a critical global food source.
Last week, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a $70-million Challenge aimed at helping cities across America grow their economies and protect human health by taking action to fight climate change. Mike Bloomberg will be emailing the mayors of the 100 largest U.S. cities about it — so keep an eye on your inbox, or tell your mayor to!
Here’s what it’s all about: When it comes to climate change, cities are both the problem and the solution. Globally, they’re the source of 70 percent of the emissions that are leading to climate change. But they’re also where creative solutions, combined with bold leadership from mayors, can make a real difference.
As the days grow warmer, the anniversary of the Trump Administration’s declaration of intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement draws closer.
In the days after this announcement last year, Mike Bloomberg and California Governor Jerry Brown launched America’s Pledge, an initiative to aggregate and quantify emissions reduction efforts of states, cities, businesses, and universities in the U.S. One year after the federal government announced it would pull out of the Paris Agreement, 2,700+ U.S. cities, states, and businesses are saying, “We Are Still In.” Together, these non-federal actors have rallied their commitments in order to ensure the U.S. meets its Paris Agreement climate goals – with or without Washington.
The United Nations International Coral Reef Initiative has declared 2018 the International Year of the Reef. Coral reefs are home to one in every four fish in the ocean, and are a critical backbone of ocean ecosystems. Unfortunately, climate change and destructive fishing practices threatens to destroy 90 percent of reefs in the next three decades.
As the demand for fish continues to grow, overfishing and damaging fishing practices, like bottom-trawling and illegal fishing, are destroying coral reefs and endangering the primary protein source for a billion people and thousands more who rely on fishing for income. At Bloomberg Philanthropies, our Vibrant Oceans Initiative is working to replenish fish populations and create a more sustainable environment.
By Antha Williams, Head of Environmental Programs, Bloomberg Philanthropies
Our oceans program, like all of our work at Bloomberg Philanthropies, aims to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. So it’s good news that the United Nations International Coral Reef Initiative has declared 2018 the International Year of the Reef. Coral reefs are home to one in every four fish in the ocean, and are a critical backbone of ocean ecosystems. Unfortunately, climate change threatens to destroy 90 percent of reefs in the next three decades. And as the demand for fish continues to grow, overfishing and destructive practices, like bottom-trawling and using bombs and cyanide for fishing, are damaging coral reefs.
Follow the Data Podcast Episode 14: Coal: Why a 19th Century Innovation is Not Working in a 21st Century World
This year’s final episode of Follow the Data revisits Bloomberg Philanthropies first feature documentary, From the Ashes, directed by Michael Bonfiglio and distributed by National Geographic. Inspired by Mike Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies’ commitment to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, the film was developed to bring greater attention to the impact of the coal industry in the United States.
Katherine Oliver speaks to two clean economy pioneers featured in the film: Mayor Dale Ross of Georgetown, Texas, and Brandon Dennison, Founder of Coalfield Development Corporation, based in West Virginia.
As Michael Bloomberg says: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it and you can’t fix it.” Cites are leaders in the transition to sustainable economies but first they need to know where they stand. The first step for cities to get on the sustainability ladder is to measure and report.
To help with this challenge, on August 8th-9th Bloomberg Philanthropies hosted the “Empowering cities with data” workshop in collaboration with C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, CDP, and the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy. The two-day meeting was held in the City of San Francisco, in a region known as the global epicenter of tech innovation. Under San Francisco’s Mayor Edwin M. Lee, the city has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 28% from 1990 levels, while its GDP has grown by 78% and its population by almost 20%.
The global losses due to illegal fishing and overfishing cost the world’s economy up to $23.5 billion annually. Vessels are getting away with these harmful practices by failing to report where they are fishing and what they are catching. They’re fishing in protected waters and depleting the fisheries of certain species, diminishing populations to irreparable lows, harming the livelihoods of and depleting an important source of protein for populations in many of the world’s countries.
Dr. Ameer Abdulla, Senior Marine Advisor, World Commission of Protected Areas, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered as you work to protect reefs in the Maldives?
I believe there is a general lack of recognition of the critical role coral reefs play in the persistence of the islands and the economy of the country. Of course this issue is not unique to Maldives but is especially emphasized given the geography and geomorphology of the country. The wellbeing of not just the coral reefs but also the people is at stake when reefs are not managed as well as they could be.
Dr. Sangeeta Mangubhai, Fiji Country Director, Wildlife Conservation Society
Can you tell us about the problems that are affecting coral reefs globally?
Coral reefs are facing an onslaught of stresses and pressures from land-based pollution, destructive fishing, overfishing, and climate change. Any one of these human caused stresses have the potential to impact coral reefs. Together they are causing wide scale losses and declines in coral reefs all over the world at alarming rates. Even some of the more remote parts of the world, away from human habitation, coral reefs are impacted by climate change-induced thermal events that can cause coral bleaching.
With Rili Djohani, the Executive Director of Coral Triangle Center
Can you tell us about the problems that are affecting coral reefs globally?
More than 60 percent of the world’s reefs are under immediate and direct threat from local sources such as overfishing, destructive fishing, uncontrolled coastal development, watershed-based pollution, or marine-based pollution and direct physical damage from coral mining and tourism activities such as trampling on the reef. An estimated 75 percent of the world’s coral reefs are rated as threatened when local threats are combined with global threats such as thermal stress caused by climate change and ocean acidification. If local and global threats are not addressed, the percentage of threatened reefs is projected to increase to 90 percent by 2050.