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The Earth Month Impact Newsletter

The Topline

Key data points

Photo Spotlight:

This year, Earth Month included an opportunity to observe a rare natural phenomenon happening far from our planet. Mike and millions of others watched the solar eclipse that passed over North America on April 8.

Protecting the Ocean = Protecting the Planet

Protecting the ocean is one of the most important actions we can take for preserving biodiversity, supporting food security for people around the world, and slowing climate change. But the ocean is facing major stressors: overfishing, plastic pollution, and record high temperatures driven by climate change. Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed that those high temperatures caused another global coral bleaching event, the second in just 10 years and potentially the largest bleaching event ever recorded.

“Coral reef bleaching is a danger sign for the whole world,” writes Bloomberg Philanthropies CEO Patti Harris in a joint op-ed with Chile’s Foreign Affairs Minister Alberto van Klaveren Stork. “To give the ocean a fighting chance against climate change and the biodiversity loss it causes, countries need to move quickly in ratifying a landmark United Nations treaty… and get to work implementing it.” Read the op-ed to learn more about the agreement on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction, also known as the Treaty of the High Seas, and why Bloomberg Philanthropies has committed $10 million to support its ratification and implementation.

The good news is that nearly 200 countries have committed to protecting 30% of the world’s ocean by the end of this decade as part of the 30×30 initiative. The bad news is that today the total protected area is closer to 8%. In an op-ed for Newsweek, Antha Williams, who leads our Environment program, and John Amos, CEO of SkyTruth, encourage global leaders to establish more Marine Protected Areas and accelerate the pace of ocean conservation.

Effective conservation efforts require reliable data and accountability. However, “[u]nder the ocean, especially, progress can be difficult to assess,” says Melissa Wright, who leads the Bloomberg Ocean Initiative, in a joint op-ed with SkyTruth Chief Impact Officer Mitchelle De Leon. To help improve transparency, SkyTruth launched a new tool called the 30×30 Progress Tracker at last week’s Our Ocean Conference in Greece. Read the op-ed about how the free tool can help “democratize 30×30 data and provide those with an interest in protecting biodiversity with accessible information about what is actually going on.”

Empowering Young People to Fight Climate Change

Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, and no one has a bigger stake in the outcome than young people. To help accelerate youth-driven climate initiatives that can make a difference for local communities and the planet, Bloomberg Philanthropies partnered with mayors around the world to launch the Youth Action Climate Fund. The Fund will support climate efforts, led by young people between 15 and 24 years old, in 100 cities across 38 countries and six continents, and representing over 62 million residents. Read the announcement, and check out coverage of the Youth Climate Action Fund in Grist.

Helping the EU’s Biggest Carbon Emitter Start to Move Beyond Coal

The Beyond Coal campaign has helped secure retirement of more than 70% of America’s coal fleet, including the recently announced retirement of two plants that will make New England completely coal-free. Since Beyond Coal’s expansion to Europe in 2017, 50% of coal plants there have retired or planned to close as well. What does that process look like on the ground? And how does it happen when the coal plant is not only a huge source of pollution and carbon emissions, but also an anchor of the regional economy? A new documentary follows Bloomberg Philanthropies’ efforts at Poland’s Belchatów Power Station, the largest emitter of greenhouse gas pollution in the EU, as it seeks options for transitioning to cleaner sources of energy and a sustainable economic future.

“Planet vs. Plastics”

The theme for Earth Day 2024 is “planet vs. plastics,” in acknowledgement of the threat that plastic pollution poses to the environment and human health. Since 2022, our Beyond Petrochemicals campaign has been working to address a major hazard in the plastic production process: petrochemical plants. The campaign’s goal is to block the expansion of more than 120 proposed petrochemical and plastic projects concentrated in Louisiana, Texas, and the Ohio River Valley, while also working to establish stricter rules for existing plants and safeguarding frontline communities. Check out the Beyond Petrochemicals playlist to see how that work is putting people over polluters, including recent news about halting construction of the largest PET petrochemical plant in the world.