The following are Mike Bloomberg’s remarks as prepared for the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco on September 13, 2018.
Hello everyone! I hope you all enjoyed the trailer for “Paris to Pittsburgh”. It’ll air on the National Geographic Channel in December – so mark your calendars.
I want to thank Governor Brown for bringing us all together today in a city and state that have been leaders on climate change for a very long time – and Governor Brown and Congresswoman Pelosi both deserve an awful lot of credit for that.
California is a great example of how fighting climate change and growing the economy go hand in hand. That’s something we also saw in New York City. We created a record number of jobs while at the same time reducing our carbon footprint by 19 percent.
Many of you have had similar experiences in your own cities and countries – and we appreciate the long distances many of you traveled to be here.
Governor Brown and I first began talking about this summit last year, after the Trump administration announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.
Neither of us was happy about that, to say the least. Climate change is a global challenge and Washington ought to be leading from the front.
We also knew many people around the world would conclude – wrongly – that America was walking away from climate action.
Nothing could be further from the truth. That’s the message of the film, and it’s why we are here today.
We want the world to know that Americans are more determined than ever to make progress on climate – and that we are making progress. A lot of progress.
In fact, we are making just as much progress under this administration as we did under the last.
You wouldn’t know that from reading the headlines – because the headlines focus on the political fights in Washington.
But the real action is happening in cities, states, and the private sector. And the good news is: Those groups are positioning the U.S. to uphold our end of the Paris Agreement, no matter what happens in Washington.
The fact is: In the U.S., the decisions that have the most influence over greenhouse gas emissions are not made by the federal government.
Those decisions are made by mayors and governors, who want to deliver cheaper energy, more jobs, and cleaner air.
They are made by CEOs, who want to save money on energy costs and capitalize on new business opportunities generated by advanced technology.
And they are made by citizens, who want to breathe air and drink water that won’t make them sick.
Because of all of these groups, over the last decade, the U.S. has cut carbon emissions more than any other large nation.
Last year, with no help from Washington, U.S. emissions fell to their lowest levels in 25 years.
The story of how and why that reduction is happening is being written in communities across America – and it’s a story that doesn’t get told enough.
I’ll give you one example: Over the last six years, more than half of all U.S. coal plants have closed or made plans to. That’s 273 plants out of 530.
Since the 2016 election, coal plant closures have continued at the same rate – despite the Administration’s efforts to prop up the industry with subsidies.
The reason is, again: Washington isn’t in charge of America’s energy production. Consumers are – and new technology is delivering exactly what they want: energy that is cheaper and cleaner than coal.
Washington can’t stop the decline of coal – and it can’t keep America from fulfilling the commitment we made in Paris.
Over the past year, thousands of U.S. cities, states, businesses, universities, and others have re-affirmed their support for the Paris Agreement. And together, their work is being supported by an initiative created by Governor Brown and Bloomberg Philanthropies, called “America’s Pledge.”
America’s Pledge aggregates all the climate actions being taken by all the groups that have declared their support for the Paris Agreement. To put the size of that group in perspective: It represents more than half of the U.S. population. If it were a country, it would have the world’s third-largest economy, behind only China and the overall U.S.
In other words: Even if Washington drops out of the Paris agreement, the group of Americans committed to it would represent more economic might than any country still in the Agreement, other than China.
Now, the Paris Agreement wasn’t only about commitments. It was also about accountability. And through America’s Pledge, we’re upholding that end of the deal, too.
We’re measuring the progress that the U.S. is making cutting emissions and reporting that to the UN, just like every other nation is doing under the Paris Agreement.
We submitted our first report at the UN’s last climate conference in Germany. This morning, we released our latest report and announced some very encouraging news from it.
The report – which is based on rigorous data collection and analysis – shows that the U.S. is nearly halfway to our Paris goal of cutting emissions at least 26 percent by 2025. And it outlines the steps that public, private, and nonprofit organizations can take to help our country reach that mark.
Every day, we’re getting closer. Just to give you a few examples:
Indianapolis has cut emissions by around 17 percent, through actions like changing thousands of streetlights to LEDs.
Georgetown, Texas is running on nearly 100 percent clean energy – and dozens more cities are on their way.
Bloomberg is one of many American companies committed to reaching that same goal – and we’re on track to get there by 2025. And in the meantime we’ve improved our energy efficiency by around 50 percent.
A coalition of Western states – with Republican and Democratic governors – are working together to build electric vehicle charging stations.
And progress like this is playing out across the country.
Now, that doesn’t mean what happens in Washington isn’t important – it is. We need more federal leadership, and that’s one reason why I’ve gotten so involved in this year’s midterm elections.
I’ve never been a partisan guy, but Republicans in Washington have had years to take on this issue – and they have stuck their heads in the sand.
We need a new direction in Washington, so I’m supporting Democrats in their bid to take over the House of Representatives.
That won’t break the gridlock. But it will send a message that members of Congress better start taking this issue seriously – or the American people will send them packing.
Until we get leadership in Washington, the report we’re releasing this morning can serve as a blueprint for national climate action, driven by the bottom up.
It’s also a blueprint that other countries can use to make their own bottom-up progress – and that’s exactly what’s starting to happen.
The Japan Climate Initiative is a coalition of businesses, cities and regional governments working to accelerate progress there.
Another new coalition of non-state groups was launched in Mexico just last month.
We’re hopeful that groups in more countries will embrace this approach in the months and years ahead.
Remember: The goals nations set in Paris were just the beginning. They have to keep aiming higher – and they increasingly recognize how important cities, states, and businesses are in that work.
Through our foundation, we’ll help them harness the power of those groups to drive progress.
Now, we have a lot of work to do, of course. Every week seems to bring fresh evidence of the urgency of climate change, from rising sea levels to record-setting storms and wildfires.
So this year, Bloomberg Philanthropies challenged the 100 biggest U.S. cities to create ambitious proposals to cut emissions from the two biggest sources: transportation and buildings.
Over the course of the fall, we’ll announce the winners, starting tomorrow.
We’re also helping states create plans to get more energy from clean sources – and we will keep working with the Beyond Coal campaign to reduce our reliance on coal-fired power plants.
Now, we could to a lot more, a lot faster, with support from the federal government. Instead, the Administration is inflicting real harm on Americans.
According to the EPA’s own estimates, the new coal pollution rules it just proposed would lead to at least 1,400 more premature deaths each year.
I doubt those rules will ever go into effect – because cities and states are fighting back, just as they have against all of Washington’s attempts to reverse our progress.
California is leading a group of states that are resisting federal rollbacks of fuel efficiency standards for vehicles – rollbacks that neither automakers nor consumers want.
Other states are setting their own rules to reduce methane leaks from oil and gas operations.
And cities all around the country are cutting carbon emissions through energy efficiency, which brings savings to residents.
We’re going to keep fighting – and we’re going to keep winning.
To the non-Americans in the room, I would say: thank you for not giving up on us. We’re going to get there – I’m convinced of that. And we’re going to do it no matter what obstacles Washington tries to throw in the way.
So to everyone here, keep up all the great work you’re doing. And I look forward to seeing new efforts and partnerships come out of this forum that will keep us on the path to victory in the fight against climate change. All the best.