Michael Bloomberg, former New York mayor and billionaire philanthropist, on Thursday cautioned against a hasty transition from oil and gas-powered cars in the U.S. to fight climate change.
While heavily involved in promoting green energy technologies and battling human-caused global warming, Mr. Bloomberg has focused on combating the use of natural gas, coal and the plastics industry known as petrochemicals.
“We are not going to get away from using oil for the next 10 or 15 years, and we’re not going to say everybody that has a gas-guzzling car can’t drive it anymore and they’ll have to start walking today,” Mr. Bloomberg said at The New York Times’ Climate Forward event hosted in Manhattan. “You have to be practical.”
His remarks came amid Climate Week, an international weeklong annual event featuring climate change protests across the globe, including New York City.
Mr. Bloomberg’s response was prompted by a question about whether his large amounts of resources might be better suited for targeting Big Oil companies such as ExxonMobil, Shell and Chevron.
The Biden administration is proposing stringent tailpipe emission rules that would force carmakers to sell a majority of electric vehicles by 2030 as opposed to those that are gas-powered.
Mr. Bloomberg went on to praise the choice of Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the leader of the United Arab Emirates’ state-run oil company, to be president-designate of this year’s annual global United Nations climate change conference known as COP28.
“The UAE as the site for COP28, and having Dr. Sultan, the guy from the UAE who is running the thing, is a smart thing to do because you’ve just got to get Big Oil — you’ve got to try to co-op them and have their practices be somewhat better,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “It’s irrational to think that they’re all going to go away. Big Oil is part of the problem. They’re also part of the solution.”
Former Vice President Al Gore, who’s spent his post-government years fighting climate change and spoke at the Climate Forward event during a different segment, drew sharp contrast with Mr. Bloomberg about Mr. Al Jaber.
“That’s just like taking the disguise off. They’ve been trying to capture this process for a long time,” Mr. Gore said. “The fossil fuel companies, given their record to date, are far more effective at capturing politicians than they are at capturing emissions.”
Mr. Bloomberg is involved with organizing COP28 as a U.N. special envoy. Mr. Al Jaber was chosen as president-designate by the UAE, a decision by the oil-rich nation that infuriated activists and prompted accusations of hypocrisy.
Mr. Al Jaber also oversees renewable energy projects and warned global leaders this week at the U.N. Climate Ambition Summit in New York that the world is “running short on time” to stop climate change.
“There is a cost either way. We must be honest and sober about this fact. Doing this right will cost trillions — between $4 and $5 trillion annually,” Mr. Al Jaber said. ”It will mean making tough choices. But doing nothing or not doing enough will come with dramatically greater costs in human life and socioeconomic development.”
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