By Associated Press
New York billionaire and presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg led a high-powered charge against President Donald Trump’s climate policies Tuesday, assuring activists, scientists and politicians from around the world that Americans are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions “even with a climate change denier in the White House.”
Bloomberg, who launched his 2020 campaign less than three weeks ago, spoke during a trip to the U.N. global climate conference in Madrid, even as the official U.S. delegation at a booth nearby kept a low profile.
Together with former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Vice President Al Gore, Bloomberg constituted a sort of shadow delegation at a time when Trump is moving to pull the United States out of the 2015 Paris climate accord.
As other Democratic candidates have done, Bloomberg vowed to immediately rejoin the pact if elected president.
“The first thing you do, Day One, is you say we’re going back in,” he said. “That’s a no-brainer.”
The former New York mayor has helped support and fund a private push to get U.S. states, cities and businesses to abide by the terms of the Paris accord.
He touted a report that said non-federal actors representing more than two-thirds of the U.S. economy are on course to cut the nation’s emissions 37% by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. If the next administration joins in, that figure could rise to 49%, bringing the U.S. roughly in line with the Paris treaty, according to the report.
“Americans are willing to continue to work, even with a climate change denier in the White House,” the 77-year-old businessman told a packed room.
The U.S. remains a party to the climate pact until Nov. 4, 2020 — the day after the U.S. presidential election.
Bloomberg, who has made climate change a central pillar of his bid for the nomination, also called for an end to U.S. subsidies and tax breaks for fossil fuels, which are one of the main sources of greenhouse gases.
Scientists say their use needs to end by the middle of the century if average temperatures on Earth are to rise no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, the target set in the Paris agreement.
By taking aim at fossil fuel subsidies, Bloomberg is challenging both a powerful American industry and Trump, who has championed the extraction of oil, gas and coal.
According to a report by the International Monetary Fund, fossil fuel subsidies in the U.S. amounted to $649 billion in 2015. Only China spent more tax money — $1.4 trillion — to keep fossil fuel prices low that year.