Next phase of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ global coal work accelerates to 25 new countries across six continents, prioritizing countries where coal power is projected to grow rapidly
To benchmark progress, the Bloomberg Global Coal Countdown unveiled significant updates to better help the world track the global state of coal, country-by-country
Glasgow, UK — Today at COP26, Michael R. Bloomberg, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions and Founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies, announced a new effort to move the world beyond coal power as fast as possible. In support of the UN Secretary-General’s call to phase out coal power by 2030 for the OECD and EU27 and by 2040 everywhere else, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a campaign to work to close a quarter of the world’s 2,445 remaining coal plants and all 519 proposed coal plants by 2025 by dramatically expanding its current efforts in seven countries and the EU to an additional 25 developing countries where coal power is projected to rapidly grow.
“Coal is enemy number one in the battle over climate change, because it causes one-third of all carbon emissions,” said Michael R. Bloomberg. “Over the last decade, Bloomberg Philanthropies has helped shut down two-thirds of coal-fired power plants in the US and half in Europe — and that work continues. But around the world, too many coal plants are driving climate change and making people sick, so we are expanding our efforts to 25 more countries and setting an ambitious new goal: working to close a quarter of the world’s coal plants by 2025 and cancel all proposed coal plants by that year, too. Just as we have been succeeding in the US and Europe, with the help of strong partners on the ground, we are determined to succeed globally.”
This new commitment builds on Bloomberg Philanthropies’ long-standing, proven track record of leveraging philanthropic funding to fill the gap, assume the risk, and succeed in moving the world beyond coal. In 2011, Bloomberg Philanthropies disrupted climate philanthropy by pledging a first-of-its-kind $50 million to retire one-third of the U.S. coal fleet by 2020. Beating the original goal and timeline by retiring half of the U.S. coal fleet in 2017, Bloomberg Philanthropies committed an additional $64 million to maintain progress in the U.S. despite the Trump Administration announcing plans to rescind the Obama Administration’s landmark Clean Power Plan. Since Bloomberg Philanthropies’ initial commitment, Beyond Coal has helped retire 65% of U.S. coal plants, leading to a 43% drop in coal emissions (2011-2019). This also allowed the U.S. to achieve 31% of its NDC by 2019 and put the country on track for a total coal phaseout that will comprise 58% of the U.S. NDC by 2030.
Also in 2017, Bloomberg Philanthropies increased its efforts through $50 million to expand work in Europe and elsewhere outside of the U.S., helping to retire 50% of coal plants in Europe to date. The success of these campaigns has since inspired the launch of Beyond Coal campaigns in Australia, South Korea, and Japan.
“If all planned coal power plants become operational, we will not only be clearly above 1.5 degrees — we will be well above 2 degrees. The Paris targets would go up in smoke,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. “We need coalitions of solidarity – between countries that still depend heavily on coal, and countries that have the financial and technical resources to support transitions.”
The expansion of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ global coal program will accelerate three strategic approaches worldwide to end global coal power by 2040:
- Policy and advocacy to push for “no coal” commitments and policies favorable to renewables
- Project development to identify and advance potential clean energy projects
- Financing and investment to fund pilot clean energy projects and encourage private sector investment
Phasing out coal power as quickly as possible is a catalytic step toward slowing climate change and improving air quality and public health. The world is at a critical juncture with coal power resurfacing during a “brown recovery” from COVID-19, and greenhouse gas emissions from coal power generation under current trends will exceed the level required to limit global warming to 1.5 degree pathway by seven gigatons in 2030. Policy and business leaders must immediately stop any new coal plants from being built – as any new coal infrastructure will lock in emissions for the next 30 years, ending our chances of tackling climate change at the urgent speed that we need.
At the same time, energy from renewable sources is now cheap enough in most parts of the world to help meet rising electricity demand. Scaling up renewable energy will help power the lives of nearly 800 million people who do not have access to electricity while helping grow economies, create jobs, and improve public health. Wealthy countries must also provide funding and assistance to help developing countries achieve a just and equitable transition away from coal and uptake renewable energy to support their sustainable development goals.
“Climate action can’t wait. Since 2015, Canada has been a committed partner in the global fight against climate change, and as we move to a net-zero future, we will continue to do our part to cut pollution and build a cleaner future for everyone,” said The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. “That includes phasing out coal-fired electricity in Canada and helping other parts of the world transition off of coal. Together, we will beat this crisis while creating a greener economy and new middle class jobs.”
With a clear mandate and calls for COP26 to be the historic moment where world leaders consign coal power to history, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ efforts will help deliver the urgent whole-of-society response required to end coal power and enable the clean energy transition by convening private companies, public sector entities, philanthropy, and non-governmental organizations.
“There is no sustainable future in coal-fired power. A massive expansion of renewable energy and storage technologies in developing countries is essential to get in line with the 1.5 degree goal, to close the significant energy access gap and build inclusive economic growth,” said Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy. “I thank Mike Bloomberg for his leadership in demonstrating how we must step up to turn commitments into action to deliver a clean and just transition away from coal towards sustainable energy for all”
“Despite promising a green recovery, many nations are turning to coal more today than in previous years–and that has profound implications for climate progress and global public health,” said Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation. “I welcome this new commitment from Mike Bloomberg — a proven leader who has delivered measurable results on coal — and look forward to seeing how his continued efforts will accelerate the Beyond Coal movement.”
To track global progress, significant updates to the Bloomberg Global Coal Countdown were also released today — including every proposed coal plant unit. New features to the most comprehensive online resource on the state of global coal include country-level data and analysis on coal plant capacity, coal power generation, expected coal retirements, and latest country commitments to phasing out coal, as well as coal reports, research, and news stories. Powered by leading international data and knowledge partners, the Coal Countdown’s upgrades aim to equip government, businesses, and financial decision-makers with free, transparent, and comprehensive data towards coal’s phaseout.
Commenting on the Bloomberg Global Coal Countdown, COP President Alok Sharma said: “COP26 must be the moment we leave coal in the past, while supporting workers and local communities to make the transition to green jobs. The comprehensive, accurate data presented by the Bloomberg Global Coal Countdown will be an important input to the negotiations, and I thank Mike Bloomberg for his leadership in driving the global coal phase out and energy transition.”
About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 810 cities and 170 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.6 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.