Former New York City mayor and Southampton resident Michael Bloomberg has had quite the busy week, tirelessly fighting against climate change and the tobacco industry.
On March 5, the United Nations appointed him as the UN Special Envoy for Climate Action. In this new role he will be supporting Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s climate strategy and efforts towards the planned 2019 Climate Summit at the United Nations Headquarters. The Summit will mobilize stronger and more ambitious action towards 2020 climate targets. Bloomberg will leverage efforts in key areas of the Summit to encourage rapid and enhanced implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change, despite President Donald Trump deciding to pull the United States out of that pact.
The Guterres will be engaging and inviting leaders from governments, businesses, finance and civil society organizations to bend the emissions curve by 2020 and accelerate the implementation of the Paris Agreement. He and Bloomberg share the perspective that the emissions gap needs to be closed soon to limit global temperature increase to below 36°F. Climate action, including by cities and subnational actors, plays an essential role in driving ambition on climate change. Bloomberg, alongside Governor Jerry Brown of California, also launched the America’s Pledge initiative, which will aggregate and quantify the actions of states, cities, businesses and other non-national actors in the United States to drive down their greenhouse gas emissions, consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
On March 7, Bloomberg went on the attack against a different kind of emissions, cigarette smoke. At the world’s largest tobacco control conference, he pledged $20 million to combat tobacco companies and the shady businesses that are funded by them. His large donation was used to create his own anti-smoking organization, Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products, with the intention of aggressively monitoring deceptive tobacco industry tactics and practices that undermine efforts to stop smoking.
This was in response to the creation of South Africa’s new “anti-smoking” organization, Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, which is suspiciously funded by the company that makes Marlboro cigarettes. The organization seeks to promote vaping over smoking cigarettes, as a healthier alternative, but Bloomberg believes that e-cigarettes are being used to attract new and recovering smokers. He’s also concerned that this organization will be used in a way that opens a back door for the tobacco industry to have a say in changing government health policies.