Bloomberg Philanthropies Boosts Investment in Sierra Club to Retire U.S. Coal Fleet & Transition the Nation towards Clean Energy Sources
Efforts aim to improve public health, slash carbon emissions and allow U.S. to take action as leader in fighting climate change
Bloomberg Philanthropies announced it will invest an additional $30 million in the Sierra Club to secure the replacement of half the nation’s coal fleet by 2017 with clean energy. The new round of funding builds on a previous commitment of $50 million, raising the foundation’s overall investment in the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign to $80 million. This adds to the successful, state-driven and community-based strategy that has made it possible for the U.S. to become a world leader in aggressive emission reductions. Additionally, acting as a catalyst in the fight against climate change, Bloomberg will lead a coalition of funders which aim to match up to $30 million in grants, further boosting the Sierra Club’s capacity to move the U.S. towards clean energy sources faster.
The coalition of more than a dozen funders includes individual donors, family foundations and major philanthropic organizations recognizing the urgency to fight climate change. Select funders include the Hewlett Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Yellow Chair Foundation, the Grantham Foundation and the Sandler Family Foundation. Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune and Michael R. Bloomberg announced the investments at the Sierra Club in Washington DC. (Click here for the event livestream and click here for photos).
“The single biggest reduction in carbon pollution in the U.S. has come by retiring and repurposing coal-fired power plants – and that’s the direct result of our Beyond Coal campaign,” said Michael R. Bloomberg. “Thanks to the community leaders who have spearheaded this work, the U.S. led every industrialized nation in reducing carbon emissions last year. But much more work remains, and today we are doubling down on what has proven to be an incredibly successful strategy for improving public health and fighting climate change.”
To date, the Bloomberg Philanthropies-Sierra Club partnership has led to solid results including:
- A steady stream of plant closures – 187 coal plants have already retired or announced their retirement, making way for public health improvements and a shift towards cleaner energy.
- A lower US coal dependence – Coal has plunged from 52% of US electricity generation to under 40%, and states are investing in cleaner, newer energy sources.
- A reduction of carbon emissions – The announced retiring coal plants effectively cut more than 280 million metric tons of carbon emissions from the U.S. electric sector. By burning less coal, the U.S. leads the world in lowering its carbon emissions, which are down 7.7% economy wide since 2006.
Working with more than 100 partner organizations nationwide, the Sierra Club is on schedule to meet its original goals and the new funding will both accelerate and expand this success. Further, the initiative will help the United States act upon the growing shift seen among investors, local governments, and power providers to move towards affordable, competitive clean energy alternatives.
With the new round of funding, the Sierra Club will continue to use tactics as varied as grassroots advocacy, community organizing, paid advertising, technical research and litigation. The Sierra Club will also continue to push regulators to crack down on harmful pollution and replace dirty power generation capacity with solar, wind and energy efficiency.
In addition to helping the country move away from coal towards a new energy economy, today’s investment in the Beyond Coal campaign will put the United States in a stronger position to drive more ambitious climate action at the 2015 United Nations climate change conference in Paris, where nations, businesses, cities, and other actors will convene to make bold commitments on further greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The Beyond Coal campaign’s success in retiring coal plants and replacing them with clean energy has already positioned the U.S. as a global leader going into the Paris negotiations, and the goals announced today by the Sierra Club put the nation on a path to exceed the climate targets announced recently by the Obama Administration.
Further, reducing America’s reliance on dirty coal will not just help protect the climate – it will save lives. For every 50 gigawatts of coal taken offline, more than 3,600 deaths and 60,000 asthma attacks are prevented. In addition, $2.3 billion in health care costs are saved each year. Closing even one coal plant can prevent 29 premature deaths, 47 heart attacks and 146 asthma attacks. That’s why community figures – from city council members to doctors to faith leaders – have been the leaders of local coal retirement campaigns, which have mobilized thousands of Americans concerned about public health in dozens of cities and small towns across the country.
“Mike Bloomberg’s continued commitment to clean air, water, and climate action demonstrate his understanding that we are at a critical turning point in our nation’s history when it comes to how we power our economy and ensure healthy families,” said Michael Brune, Sierra Club executive director. “The Sierra Club’s partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies has helped us work with communities nationwide who are fighting to protect their air, water, and children’s health from toxic coal pollution. Together, we have secured the retirement of 187 dirty power plants – we cannot and we will not stop there. With this new investment, a clean energy economy is in our sights, and dirty coal is a thing of the past.”
“The Sierra Club and our 2.4 million members and supporters are proud to stand with Mr. Bloomberg today to continue building on the successes of the Beyond Coal campaign and we look forward to more victories for public health and our planet that will be won state by state, city by city, and by dedicated people across America.”
Bloomberg Philanthropies began funding the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in 2011 with a goal to phase out one third of the nation’s coal plants, beginning with the oldest and dirtiest units, and replacing the retiring coal fleet with cleaner energy sources, reducing toxic mercury emissions by 90 percent by 2020. The initial $50 million grant was used to expand the Sierra Club’s campaign to 45 states from 15, enforcing state and federal environmental laws and helping communities impacted by coal mining and coal plants to make the clean energy transition and address concerns left from closing coal plants.
Explore an interactive map tracking coal plant retirements and growing health benefits from plant closures at beyondcoal.bloomberg.org, and learn more at sierraclub.org/beyondcoal.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ mission is to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Public Health, Environment, Education, Government Innovation and the Arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $462 million. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.