No presidential prospect has done more to confront climate change than the billionaire Democrat, who measures his progress in the metric tons of carbon emissions he’s helped eliminate.
But as climate change surges to forefront of the 2020 Democratic primary, no issue better illustrates Bloomberg’s political challenge. A onetime Republican, the pragmatic former
Virtually every top Democratic White House contender embraced the so-called Green New Deal immediately after it was released last week. The nonbinding resolution outlined ambitious plans to cut all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero over 10 years while instituting massive investments in wind and solar production, energy-efficient buildings and high-speed rail that could make air travel obsolete.
Bloomberg was not among the cheerleaders. He welcomed more focus on climate change, but questioned the ambitious plan’s feasibility.
“I’m focused on what are we going to do tomorrow. I’m not a legislator. I’m an executive. That means doing things and not just talking about them,” Bloomberg said in an interview with The Associated Press.
“Some of the things they talk about are very long term. Decades. You’re not going to find out whether that’s achievable for decades,” he continued. “If you say you’re going to do something, I want to know when, and how, and who’s going to pay for it. … Legislators don’t work at that level.”
Democratic primary voters might not reward that approach. Climate change is a key issue for the party’s base, who want dramatic action to counter President
AP VoteCast, a nationwide survey of the American electorate, found that 92 percent of people who voted for
That helps explain why many
“Everybody on the Democratic side is going to realize you’ve got no chance being a climate moderate,” said billionaire Democratic activist
“He’s going to be running as a moderate Democrat. I think that’s who he actually is,” Steyer added. “But I don’t think you can cast dispersions on his climate bona fides, because they really exist.”
Indeed, Bloomberg has helped shutter 282 coal plants in
He has committed
After Trump withdrew
Bloomberg’s allies on climate change include former longtime
Bloomberg told the AP he would announce his 2020 intentions by the end of the month. Climate change, his aides report, would stand as a pillar of his presidential campaign should he run given his extraordinary record.
But with vocal critics on the right and left, it’s unclear whether voters will reward him, especially with alternatives in the race.
“Bloomberg’s reputation as a climate warrior is a bit overblown,” said
Jones called Bloomberg “a pro-fracking, pro-pipeline, pro-nuclear billionaire who favors half measures and false solutions because he’s more interested in protecting his friends in the C Suite than he is in stopping climate change.”
Bloomberg acknowledged that he supports gas and oil pipelines. And he continues to support the production of natural gas and ethanol, both fossil fuels that have drawn the ire of modern-day environmental activists.
He laughed when asked about the criticism from the left.
“If we haven’t pleased people on climate, I don’t know what you could do for them,” Bloomberg said. “You have to have a practical aspect. Look, nobody is going to go to the endgame directly.”
After the interview, Bloomberg toured a floating solar power project on a pond outside the
Asked whether a presidential run might be the best way to promote his vision for America, Bloomberg chuckled.
“I’m not sure everybody would agree with that,” he said. “I’d look at it differently if I thought everybody did.”