The former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he will write a $4.5m cheque to cover this year’s US commitment to the Paris climate agreement.
Donald Trump last year pulled the US out of the deal, which was signed by Barack Obama, making the US the only country opposed. Even Syria, torn by a seven-year civil war, has signed the pact.
Bloomberg, whose net worth Forbes pegs at about $50bn, was speaking on Earth Day, to CBS’s Face the Nation. He did not commit to provide funds beyond 2018 and said he hoped that by next year Trump would have changed his mind.
“America made a commitment and as an American, if the government’s not going to do it, we all have responsibility,” he said. “I’m able to do it. So, yes, I’m going to send them a cheque for the monies that America had promised to the organization as though they got it from the federal government.”
Trump, he said, should be able to “listen to others and change his mind. A person that doesn’t change their mind isn’t very smart … And he’s been known to change his mind.
“He should change his mind and say look there really is a problem here. America is part of the problem. America is a big part of the solution and we should go in and help the world stop a potential disaster.”
Asked if he thought the non-binding nature of the Paris deal was a problem, in terms of other countries not sticking to its aims for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the effect of climate change, Bloomberg said: “Look, it’s dangerous to keep doing what we’re doing.
“If everybody would do the right thing, yes, it would be better. But if some people or some countries do the right thing we all benefit from that.
“All I know is that America, I believe, will meet its commitment by 2025 to reduce greenhouse gases by an agreed amount, and if we do it hopefully other countries will do it as well.”
Asked if he was “filling a leadership gap”, the media baron – who was a Republican mayor and considered a 2016 presidential run as an independent – said: “Well, I think that this is what the American public when you poll them say they want to do.”
The odds on him running for the White House in future, he said, were “not very high”.
The Trump administration has also rolled back Obama-era environmental regulations at home. Bloomberg said the man in charge of much of that roll-back, Scott Pruitt, Trump’s scandal-ridden Environmental Protection Agency chief, had “walked away 100%” from doing his job, which “is to protect the environment”.
Bloomberg said the Trump appointee, who has expressed doubt about accepted climate science, was “saying the environment doesn’t need protection” and saying instead he would “try to protect jobs”.
“That’s not his job,” Bloomberg said. “His policies are not good for the world. That to debunk science and walk away from it is just ridiculous. Even if you don’t believe it. If there’s a possibility that it’s right, you have to take prophylactic actions to prevent a disaster.”
Firing Pruitt would be up to Trump, Bloomberg said, adding: “If he could get Scott Pruitt to change his policies, then he can keep him.”