Bloomberg’s climate pragmatism could turn off 2020 Democrats

Published 8:23 am Wednesday, February 13, 2019

ORLANDO, Fla.  — This should be Michael Bloomberg’s moment.

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 New York mayor is struggling to find his place among the increasingly bold ambitions of his adopted political party.

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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.