Feb 5, 2021 - Energy & Environment

UN taps Mike Bloomberg for climate post ahead of crucial summit

Mike Bloomberg

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Friday named former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as his "special envoy for climate ambition and solutions."

Why it matters: The appointment comes in the run-up to a pivotal UN climate summit in Scotland late this year aimed at strengthening nations' efforts under the Paris Agreement.

Driving the news: The UN said Bloomberg would work with "governments, companies, cities and financial institutions" to secure new pledges to cut emissions steeply in the years and decades ahead.

  • The aim is to work with high-emitting nations and industries to "vastly" speed up the transition to climate-friendly energy and more quickly phase out coal.
  • Bloomberg will also be "global ambassador" for a pair of related efforts called the "Race to Zero" and the "Race to Resilience" campaigns.

Threat level: Global emissions are nowhere near on track for the sustained deep cuts consistent with the 2015 deal's goal of holding temperature rise under 2°C above preindustrial levels (let alone the pact's even harder ambition of 1.5°C).

Catch up fast: It's the latest in a long line of climate advocacy roles for Bloomberg, the billionaire philanthropist who ran a failed bid for the Democratic presidential nomination last year.

  • He's long funded environmentalists' efforts to shut down U.S. coal plants, an initiative that expanded into the wider "Beyond Carbon" initiative in 2019.
  • Bloomberg has also long worked with cities to boost climate efforts, and in the financial space, he chairs the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.
  • It's not even his first UN special envoy role on climate change — he was named to prior positions in 2018, and a city-focused role in 2014.

What they're saying: Friday's announcement says Bloomberg's work will be designed to help advance recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that does not just "reset" the global economy, but will "transform" it via "new investment in clean infrastructure, new jobs, and a resilient future free from dirty fossil fuels."

Go deeper