November 7, 2022 - Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City and now a special envoy on climate change for the United Nations, announced a new international plan on Monday to help 25 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America phase out coal by 2040.
The announcement from Mr. Bloomberg, a billionaire philanthropist who has given more than $500 million to help end coal use in the United States, did not include a new financial pledge.
Instead, he said, the initiative will focus on helping develop business plans, national policies and technical resources that countries need to mobilize big-dollar investments in clean energy. The alliance of governments — under a partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies and Sustainable Finance For All, a United Nations body — will concentrate on countries where energy demand is projected to grow, and where renewable energy potential is plentiful.
Coal is the single largest source of planet-warming emissions and still a major source of energy generation in many nations. At the same time, attracting private-sector dollars for wind, solar and other renewable power has been a challenge, particularly in developing countries.
The group’s goal is to see coal plants retired in many developing countries by 2040, with some wealthier countries ending coal use by 2030.
“We’ve seen that it’s possible to expand access to clean, affordable energy and cut carbon emissions at the same time,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement, noting that in the United States more than two-thirds of coal plants have shuttered thanks to a mix of activism that has prompted Democratic administrations to impose regulations, and market forces that have made coal far more expensive than gas or solar.
Mr. Bloomberg said that for developing countries, policy analysis and technical assistance were “the side of energy development that doesn’t get a lot of attention but can mean the difference between investment in coal and clean power.”
Indonesia, for example, is the third-largest coal producer after China and India, and its energy plan foresees coal providing a quarter of its power mix by 2050. Shutting down its 118 coal plants could cost $37 billion, according to a recent report. Meanwhile, many nations in Africa have enormous wind and solar resources but because of perceived risks, financing costs can be higher.
The coalition of governments includes Bangladesh, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda and Vietnam.