Dec 13, 2019

Mike Bloomberg releases his first domestic climate plan

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Democratic White House hopeful Mike Bloomberg would aim to cut economy-wide U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and implement policies that would make 80% of power generation zero-carbon by 2028.

Why it matters: Those are two key targets in broadly worded plans unveiled Friday that mark the first detailed domestic climate proposals from the billionaire's campaign, and follow his years of advocacy on the topic.

  • Earlier this week, Bloomberg — whose late-starting campaign is polling far behind the frontrunners — laid out international policy goals alongside his visit to UN climate talks in Madrid.
  • The visit to the UN talks and this new domestic plan underscore how climate policy will be among the pillars of his campaign.

The big picture: Overall, Bloomberg is eyeing a zero-carbon economy by 2050, which is consistent with several rivals' goals. The first tranche of proposals focuses on electricity.

How it works: Pillars of the broadly worded policy include...

  • Shutting down coal-fired power plants by 2030 and issuing carbon emissions regulations strict enough to thwart construction of new natural gas-fired plants.
  • The carbon emissions rules envisioned would also lead to "orderly replacement" of existing gas plants with zero-carbon sources.
  • A suite of incentives, financing and permitting steps to speed up deployment of zero-carbon power sources.
  • They include expansion of existing incentives for wind and solar; new incentives for storage and hydrogen; streamlining interstate transmission siting; and investment in grid modernization.
  • Increasing research and development spending on clean generation and grid tech to at least $25 billion annually.

One level deeper: Other pledges in the plan include ending fossil fuel leasing on federal lands and "all subsidies" for fossil fuels, such as tax incentives for oil-and-gas development.

  • The plan also has environmental justice components, vowing to make the topic "central to decision-making at all federal agencies."
  • The proposal does not include carbon pricing, but an aide said Bloomberg supports it.

What's next: The campaign said proposals in coming weeks will address the "jobs transition" for coal-sector workers and a "detailed innovation agenda."

What we don't know (yet): The total estimate costs of the proposals beyond the R&D proposal. The outline, unlike some other candidates' plans, doesn't provide estimated overall costs.

  • Also unclear is whether the plan could enable him to make headway among younger, progressive advocates who have rallied around the more progressive campaigns of Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
  • Despite Bloomberg's climate emphasis, prior work as the UN's climate envoy and years of financing of climate advocacy, he's out of step with the Democratic zeitgeist in other ways.

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