Remarks as Delivered
Manchester, New Hampshire
“It’s great to be back here in New Hampshire. Last night I had dinner with some local political leaders to talk about the biggest issues facing this state. And they are in many cases, in most cases, the same issues that face all the states in our great country.
“And this morning I spent some time with a group of entrepreneurs from Manchester to get their perspective. Nothing political, just I always come to New Hampshire in the winter when it snows and come here.
“Well I was here in October and in Nashville talking to a group, Moms Demand Action, which is a group – if you don’t know about it, they support common sense gun laws and they have been very impactful. An awful lot of elected officials, when a group of moms descend on you wearing red shirts and start screaming at you, every elected official pays attention. Now whether they remember it the next day is a separate issue, but they really have been helpful in electing candidates who want common sense gun laws, which is really just background checks.
“Nobody’s trying to take away anybody’s guns, but we shouldn’t be selling guns to criminals or people with psychiatric problems or minors, and that’s what they advocate for and they are very effective and it’s great to be with them. And it’s great to know that they have a very healthy chapter here in New Hampshire.
“I also had the pleasure of working with your Mayor, Joyce Craig. I have gotten to know Joyce over the last two years because she has participated in a leadership program that our foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies created with Harvard University. And the idea behind the program is really pretty simple. The private sector spends billions of dollars on leadership development for executives every year, but mayors just don’t have access to that kind of support. So we created an organization joint with Harvard University, the Business School and the Government School, or the B and K School as they’re called, and we invited some of the most dynamic mayors across this country and from around the world to participate, and Mayor Craig, I’m happy to say, was in the first cohort.
“They talk about things that are real world problems that mayors are going to face when they get into office. What we try to do is pick young mayors who really are aggressive in terms of wanting to learn and make a difference and willing to stand up for things that may be politically difficult but are in the public’s interest, and Mayor Craig is as good an example as you could find.
“And then after they spend four days with the professors from the B School and K School, they send up their next two in line to do the same thing for four days about a month later. And then there’s blogs and newsletters and focus groups and they all work together going forward.
“And all mayors have somewhat the same problems. Everybody wants something, nobody wants to pay for it – welcome to the NFL. She’s, I think, been a very good mayor here and I hope a little bit of it was because of what we were able to add to her abilities.
“I want to say one thing that the program does not cover and that is how to keep the government open. That is so basic, it is beneath the mayors. When we started that program, it never occurred to us that the government would be closed.
“In fact, if you go around the world, I can’t think of any other country that closes down its government over a political dispute. There is no reason for it. Everybody suffers. And I think it’s so basic that we don’t talk to the mayors, it’s beneath them.
“Unfortunately, it turns out, it’s not beneath our current president. And to me the government shutdown was an utter failure of executive leadership. And I think it’s an example of just how totally incompetent management can needlessly hurt millions of people. It’s not all of a sudden everybody’s going to get their checks and we’re right back on. This has damaged the country and it’ll take a while to recover.
“I’m glad the shutdown is over for now, but the American people will continue, I think, to pay a steep cost for the White House’s total incompetence just because the president is fixated on a wall that we don’t need instead of the real challenges that we face – challenges like creating good paying jobs. Challenges like making healthcare more affordable. Challenges like stopping the opioid crisis that is tearing so many families and communities apart. A very big problem, as a matter of fact, here in New Hampshire. Your rate of opioid addiction is among the highest in the country.
“There’s the challenge of improving our public schools and making college more affordable. The future for all of our citizens is education, more and more every day. And unfortunately, we’re not preparing people for the world that they’re going to have to face.
“We also have to invest in infrastructure. The list goes on and on. But this morning I thought I’d just pick one subject to talk about and it’s one of the toughest challenges we face, but maybe one of the most important. It’s a challenge in New Hampshire. It’s a challenge in the United States, and it’s a challenge all around the world. And that is climate change.
“I’ve been working on this issue for more than a dozen years. I recently wrote a book about it with my friend Carl Pope, who did a great job leading the Sierra Club. We have copies of the book for everyone when you leave, but when you take the book please, one per family, they cost a lot of money. And if you open it up, with the exception of a handful of people at the head table, you will have one of the rarest books in the world, and that is an unautographed copy of a book by Bloomberg. I thought that was funnier than you did, actually.
“Seriously fighting climate change is one of the best ways to save lives because you reduce pollution. This is an environmental thing for the here and now, as well as climate change for the future. You save money by reducing energy bills and that’s good, and you grow the economy by creating jobs. And during my term as Mayor of New York City, we substantially cut the city’s carbon footprint while also increasing life expectancy by three years. When I left office, life expectancy in New York was three years greater than the national average. So a lot of people benefited from that. And we also, while we did that, we created 400,000 new jobs. So environmental stuff and economic stuff go hand in hand, both in the same direction. You help the environment and you will help your economy.
“The critics say that we have to choose between some of these things and that’s just not true, as with a lot of social problems that we have to address. I remember smoking, when I put in a smoking ban, nobody wanted my picture, the cameras wouldn’t show up, and I got a lot of one finger waves in parades. But in the end people adopted the smoking policies. It’s been adopted all through Western Europe, Latin America, all over this country, even in some cities in China where the government owns the tobacco companies. And what it’s done is helped the food and beverage business. Restaurants don’t get any money when you sit there and have a cigarette after dinner, they like you to get out and they can use that table again. And their employees are healthier because they don’t have to breathe that air.
“So that’s just another good example of good policy to save people’s lives and solve one issue. Helps the economy as well. It’s not theory, it’s real experience. And I think Americans understand the importance of a number of these issues, particularly climate change. Americans want elected officials to put partisanship aside and work together on real solutions to their problems because they see these problems all around them.
“And with climate change, you can see it in the wildfires in California, the hurricanes that strike our coasts, the hotter, drier weather, which is causing problems for farmers. I was in Iowa and some of the farmers were complaining that all of a sudden Canada has become so warm that they’re now growing crops in Canada that they used to grow in Iowa. And that’s competition for the Iowa farmers. So they can really see it right there.
“The warmer, shorter winters are doing wonders for ticks and other insects that carry disease. In fact, there was a recent study that showed here in New Hampshire and also in Maine, one study showed that 70 percent of baby moose are killed by ticks that now survive through the winter. And you can go out to the West, the Rocky Mountains, and see these big swathes of trees, all brown killed by the insects that the winter used to kill and no longer can do that.
“Climate change is hurting a lot of industries, and not just the ski industry, but a lot of other industries that help the local economy, and businesses of every kind are facing the potential for disruptions and higher costs and they just can’t afford what is happening.
“If a company built a plant near the water, the CEO can’t pretend that sea levels aren’t rising or that storms aren’t becoming stronger. Anybody that went before the board and said, ‘Oh, it’s just a commie plot,’ would get fired on the spot in this day and age. Businesses, you have to plan for the future. You have to protect yourself from things that are coming down the pike, and that should be no different in government as well.
“Unfortunately, we do have a president that doesn’t see it that way. He failed at business and now I think it’s fair to say he is failing at government. His own administration produced a damaging report showing that we face what they called substantial damage to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health from climate change. And you know what the president said in response? ‘I don’t believe it,’ he said. How can you possibly not believe it?
“I hate to break this to you, Mr. President, but if you don’t believe in science, don’t go to the doctor, don’t get on an airplane, don’t talk on the phone, and don’t even think about tweeting. Wouldn’t that be nice? Guess it would.
“Most Americans in both parties, seriously, do respect science and they support the Paris climate agreement. And after the president announced his intention to pull America out of that agreement, mayors, governments, and business leaders came forward to say we’re still into that agreement.
“And so we teamed up with Jerry Brown, just finished his term as governor of California, who just really did an incredible job on climate change when he was out there. And we brought all of these different groups together in one national coalition. I’m glad to say that that group includes 50 businesses, universities, and local governments from here in New Hampshire so you certainly are doing your part.
“We call the group the America’s Pledge, and everyone in the coalition has committed to cutting carbon emissions in line with the goals our country set in Paris. But given the latest scientific reports, I think it’s clear that our Paris commitment should be viewed as the bare minimum for what we’re doing.
“What we said was going to happen to this planet in 2050, then the scientists started saying, ‘Well, at the rate it’s going, it’s going to be in 2040.’ And some of the indicators would argue 2030 might be a more realistic time.
“What’s happening is really scary and it may be irreversible. I hope not. But to not stop and do everything you can. And when there’s a threat to the entire world, whether it’s going to happen or not isn’t the issue. When there’s that kind of threat, you just have to take prophylactic action, and that’s what we’re trying to do. And we’re trying to get people from starting from the bottom up and really accelerate it. And what we need is a president that can lead us forward instead of trying to drag us backwards.
“The good news is voters are demanding that candidates across this country take a stand on climate change. You saw that in last year’s elections. More candidates than ever before ran on climate change and they won.
“It’s also been great to see so many fellow Democrats embrace the idea of a Green New Deal. That idea has been around for a very long time. And we’ve been working on the issue, but the last time that it was in the public zeitgeist was back in 2009 and 2010 when Democrats controlled the Congress and the White House. And the big idea then was cap and trade and that did not get through Congress. When it happened that it didn’t get through Congress, a lot of people throw up their hands and said there was no hope. I refuse to accept that. I don’t think we can accept that. This isn’t a choice. You just have to understand there’s an issue here.
“And I believe that through bottom up action we could save lives, save money, and create jobs, just as we have been doing in New York City. And I’m glad to say thanks to millions of volunteers, that is exactly what has happened across this country.
“In 2011, I teamed up with the Sierra Club and other partners to close coal fired power plants across the country and replace them with a cleaner form of energy. And here we are nearly a decade later and we have helped closed more than half of the country’s 281 out of 530 coal fired power plants.
“We’ve cut the number of Americans dying from coal pollution by 6,000 annually. We’ve helped lower people’s electricity bill. We’ve helped create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in renewable energy. And we reduced carbon emissions even further than the levels that the cap and trade bill would have had it become law.
“So I think the lesson is where there’s a will, there’s a way. And despite this administration’s attempts to prop up the coal industry, coal plants have continued closing at about the same rate under President Trump that they had under President Obama.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that replacing coal with clean energy is good for America, but until Washington starts investing in regions that have long depended on coal, these communities will continue to suffer.
“Back in the 19th and 20th centuries, America’s rise to greatness was powered by coal miners, and their sacrifices and hard work helped make us an industrial powerhouse of the world.
“Now, I believe today that as a country we have to repay that debt to the coal mining communities because they are getting hurt. Instead just this month, the Senate let a law lapse that required coal companies to fund healthcare for miners who developed black lung disease. What a disgrace. The president goes and talks about saving coal miners jobs and then we walk away from the health problems that the coal miners have.
“The Trump administration also tried to cut funding for job training and economic development in coal country. The hypocrisy of what the president said and then what the president’s trying to do is just staggering.
“The president likes to give rallies and speeches where he makes promises to miners about bringing their jobs back, but I think it’s clear to everybody at this point, even the coal miners – those are just empty words.
“Technology and automation displaced most of the jobs, not the environmental issues and not government. But instead of trying to help miners and mining communities deal with the changing economy, the president just makes promises that he can’t keep.
“Miners need jobs to feed their families and pay their bills. They don’t need more talk. They need more action and more investment in their communities. And I think we do have an obligation to do something about this.
“They’re going to happen in other industries as well where the economy changes. Technology changes, people’s tastes and behavior change, and people are out of work. And we just can’t say, ‘Oh, you know, that’s the way it happens.’ We as a country can do better. We are better. We have to pull together and try to help people who need the help. People who want to work but just cannot find a job. People who want to work and just don’t have the skills to get today’s jobs and do something about helping them acquire what they need to compete.
“My Foundation, I’m happy to say, has been piloting some projects across America to help mining communities acquire new skills and jobs. It is an enormous challenge, but that requires leadership from the president as well as private philanthropy. And I believe it just has to be a central part of the Green New Deal that people talk about.
“In fact, I believe the first pillar of any Green New Deal should be a plan for major and comprehensive investment to create jobs and increase economic growth in coal regions and other areas that have been tied to where their economy is tied to fossil fuels.
“As a country, we cannot continue leaving people and areas behind. It’s just morally wrong. And as a party, I think the Democrats have to show that while the president is offering false promises, we have real solutions. And not just speeches, not just rallies, but concrete things that we can do, that we can afford, and that we can rally the public behind. And those solutions will spread economic benefits to every corner of every state, not just those hurt by the change in the coal industry.
“And I think that’s the lesson of the Yellow Vest protests in Paris. You can’t ask people affected by the transition to a green economy to pay more unless you deliver economic benefits in the form of good jobs and better infrastructure that they will feel in their lives and in their communities. You have to help all workers affected by the shift from fossil fuels to clean energy. And it just can’t be an afterthought. It’s got to be a concrete plan. It has to be a central part of any environmental plan or it will fail.
“Now, a lot of elected officials have embraced the idea of a Green New Deal, and that’s great. It’s become fashionable to do so. But I think it’s time as a party that we started putting some meat on the bone and laying out exactly what a Green New Deal should include, and I believe that that plan should be bold and ambitious and most importantly achievable.
“I’m a little bit tired of listening to things are pie in the sky, that we never are going to pass., are never going to afford. I think it’s just disingenuous to promote those things. You’ve got to do something that’s practical.
“We need a transition as quickly as possible to clean energy and that has to be a part of the 2020 party platform for the Democratic Party, period.
“I’ve already begun working on putting together the details of what I believe is a Green New Deal, what it should look like. And whether I run for president or not, I will work to ensure that fighting climate change and spurring economic development in areas that have depended on fossil fuels is a top priority for the Democratic nominee.
“Now I will tell you that one of the elements of my plan will be helping local and state governments to take more action, something that my foundation has been doing.
“We recently invited mayors from around the country to propose ambitious plans of their own, to cut carbon in ways that improve people’s lives. We call this the American Cities Climate Challenge and we’ve made the challenge available to all the major cities across the country. I think something like 200 or 250 finally applied for the prizes. We offered a total of $70 million in technical support and staff expertise and other resources to help bring the best of those ideas to life.
“We picked 25 winners from all over the country, and those cities are now implementing their ideas. And one of the requirements to win was that your idea has to be transferable to other cities. So a lot of cities, even those that didn’t win, can if they think these things will make a difference in their community can do it – help their economy, help clean the air that they breathe and give us more of a future.
“Let me give you just a couple of examples. I made a note of Orlando, Florida putting floating solar panels on thousands of ponds and lakes. Their answer is the fish benefit when they have some shade, and it’s land that’s not usable for anything else. And so generating carbon free energy is a good idea.
“San Diego is on track to get 100 percent of their energy from renewable sources. The state of Iowa now generates a third of all of their electricity from wind. So when you hear people saying, ‘Oh, we’re not going to do that, that’s just a commie plot,’ then take a look at what they’re really doing.
“In New York City, Al Gore and I painted the roof of a five-story building with a flat roof, we painted it white. Why? Because a white roof reflects off the sun and so your energy bills over the year go down 25 percent and you get that savings every year just for the cost of a couple of cans of paint.
“The local newspapers had the two of us on the front pages called clowns. Next time you fly in or out of New York, look down. Every, and when I say every I mean every, roof is painted white just ten years later. It’s an enormous change, and you think about the amount of energy that was saved and the reduction in the amount of pollution that would have gone into the air to generate that electricity. It really is quite an amazing thing.
“Cities like Denver and San Antonio are working on a transition to electric vehicles. And my team is also helping cities and states fight environmental roadblocks that have resulted in toxic pollution. You should know, the president of the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, has been waging an assault on clean air and water protections, which is no surprise since it’s being run by a coal lobbyist. That is like appointing a tobacco industry lobbyist to be the surgeon general. You can’t make this up. It just goes on and on.
“Trump’s EPA is trying to roll back limits on mercury pollution that contaminates the air and the water and harms kids’ development. It goes straight into the fish that we eat and straight into your body. It really is damaging. And an awful lot of the coal fired power plants installed a technology to reduce or eliminate the mercury and then the rules to do so have gone away even after they made all the investment.
“Also a lot of places are trying to roll back limits on methane pollution from oil and gas drilling. Methane is one of the biggest drivers of global warming and companies that have already invested in technology here too to limit it don’t have to use that anymore. And this really amounts to an assault on public health and the environment. And that’s why I’m helping ten Democratic attorney generals who are fighting back.
“I think the most important job of leaders is to protect people’s health and protect their safety, and this administration, not to beat a dead horse, but it really is failing miserably. But complaining about it doesn’t get us very far.
“So I can just tell you my foundation is spending hundreds of millions dollars supporting environmental work around the country. I have been getting together all around the country with people like Jerry Brown and the Sierra Club and mayors and governors and business leaders, and with the United Nations members, we’ve got to really do something about this rather than just talk about it.
“Fighting climate change is an urgent challenge, maybe one of the most serious that we face. But if we tackle it head on, I really do think communities can be stronger and more prosperous. We can also save an awful lot of lives and that means some of the people right in this room will be healthier because of it.
“We’ve got to leave a better world for generations to come, and it will take a lot of work. It will require us to work together, but I really believe that we can do it if we have strong leadership at the top and if we organize and mobilize Americans across this country to push for change.
“So thanks again for inviting me. It’s a pleasure to spend some time here. I’ve asked Mayor Craig to stop the snow for late this afternoon. I’ve got an early morning breakfast back in New York, but I will probably be doing it via phone from right here. No offense intended, I grew up in Boston where I liked snow and even my mother when she was in her nineties went out and shoveled. And I thought we got more snow than we do now. I’m not sure that’s true.
“Anyways, be happy to take some questions, and thank you Steve.”