The following excerpt originally appeared in Yahoo Finance on Monday, November 1, 2021
As heads of state gather in Glasgow, Scotland for a climate summit, much of the news will focus on nations setting carbon-reduction goals for decades down the road — long after those making the promises will be out of office.
Setting ambitious long-term goals is good, but not good enough. Because more important than any promise countries make about 2050 is what they do between now and 2030. And what’s most important is what they do over the next few years about the biggest problem of all: coal.
The single greatest cause of climate change is burning coal. More than any other pollutant, coal has the power to defeat us in the battle to stop temperatures from rising to catastrophic levels.
We have every reason to act with urgency. Coal pollution poisons the air we breathe and the water we drink, killing and sickening millions of people every year.
There are also good financial reasons to act. New clean power projects are now cheaper than running existing coal plants in half of the world. Wind and solar power mean cheaper electricity bills for consumers. Switching to clean energy also reduces the economic risk to industries and communities, as they face increasingly severe — and expensive — floods, fires, storms, and droughts.
Today, Bloomberg Philanthropies is launching a major new initiative to move the world beyond coal to clean energy. Our goal is to close a quarter of the world’s nearly 2,500 coal plants — and cancel all 500-plus proposed coal plants — by 2025.