Rocky Mountain Institute Tapped By Bloomberg Philanthropies On Emissions Study
The Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute is part of a Bloomberg Philanthropy grant announced today that will investigate U.S. emissions reductions.
Former New York Mayor and climate philanthropist Michael Bloomberg announced a new gift as part of his philanthropy’s climate change efforts as he delivered the commencement speech at the University of Maryland.
The announcement of the $2.3 million grant to the University of Maryland’s Center for Global Sustainability and the Boulder, Colo.-based Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) Friday will “evaluate and analyze current U.S. greenhouse gas emissions reductions.”
Bloomberg spoke Friday at the University of Maryland’s commencement ceremony, asking graduates for help on climate change.
“The point of failure was crystallized during your time here at school. Two years ago the White House announced its intention to pull out of the Paris climate agreement. It took almost 30 years for that global agreement to come together and every country signed it, including the U.S. But in 2017 we became the only country in the world, the only one to reject it,” Bloomberg told the crowd.
Bloomberg blamed politics for the administration’s actions. “We should also fire all politicians who ignore those threats,” he added. “Otherwise your generation will pay for it, as climate change kills more people and destroys more homes, farms, and businesses.”
He pointed to the movement dubbed “We’re Still In.” He thanked Maryland graduates and faculty for their efforts in announcing the gift.
Bloomberg Philanthropies characterized the move as “doubling down” on Bloomberg’s commitment at state and local levels.
“This Administration’s negligence on climate change and kowtowing to the coal industry is harming Americans’ health and safety – and costing us money in higher electric bills,” Bloomberg said in the announcement. “But we’re not going to let that stand in our way: We’re going to uphold our end of the Paris Agreement, no matter what happens in Washington. America’s Pledge helps to speed our progress by bringing people together, collecting data, and outlining ways we can do more. The next report will add to that momentum, and the University of Maryland is an important partner in our work.”
Robert Orr, Dean of the UMD School of Public Policy, praised the move.
“Bottom-up climate leadership from states, cities, businesses, and universities is where the action is today,” Orr said. “Our Center for Global Sustainability is proud to continue working with Bloomberg Philanthropies on America’s Pledge. Fusing strong data and analytics with political and economic leadership from below has proven to be a powerful and necessary tool to address the climate crisis we face today.”
RMI’s Board Chair, Edward D. White, is the “Managing Partner of Fahr LLC, the umbrella entity for business leader, philanthropist, and renewable energy advocate Tom Steyer’s business, policy, political, and philanthropic efforts,” according to the RMI website.
Steyer, a California billionaire, is a well-known funder of Democratic candidates across the west, as Western Wire has previously reported, and whose philanthropy extends to anti-industry organizations like the League of Conservation Voters and even embattled activists.
But the group has extensive ties with other anti-fossil fuel organizations, including one that pushed a handful of Colorado communities to join the nationwide effort to bring climate lawsuits against industry on behalf of local and municipal governments.
Robert Hutchinson, a senior fellow at RMI, also serves on the board of Resilient Analytics, an organization that provided analysis to Boulder County ahead of its 2018 climate lawsuit filing. Kendra Tupper, the City of Boulder’s Chief Sustainability Officer, also worked at RMI.
RMI’s 2017 annual report lists the Rockefeller Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Environmental Defense Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies, ClimateWorks Foundation, and the Oak Foundation as funders.
RMI previously assisted Bloomberg Philanthropies and the office of California Gov. Jerry Brown in 2017 to discuss America’s Pledge, an effort to keep communities, states, and businesses in the Paris Agreement. RMI, along with World Resources Institute, was tasked with creating a “footprint analysis” of “subnational action” across the U.S., “transformation analysis” of the U.S. economy and “polices for increased subnational climate action,” and “emissions analysis” of current and projected U.S. emissions trends.
Bloomberg has also invested heavily in state attorney general offices across the country as part of his state and local efforts on climate policy, as Western Wire has previously reported. Bloomberg Philanthropies founded the “State Energy and Environmental Impact Center,” (SEEIC) housed at the New York University School of Law, with a $6 million grant.