“The world has those that follow and those that lead. And those that lead, some lead in the wrong direction and some lead in the right direction,” said Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General who is planning a summit on combating global warming next year.
Mr Bloomberg, a steadfast critic of President Donald Trump, took his appointment announcement as an opportunity to say that he hopes Mr Trump changes his mind about climate change, something he has repeatedly called a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese.
“I hope [Mr Trump] listens to his advisors, looks at the data, and changes his mind...if that’s the case that shows a great leader who, when facts change, they recognise something different,” the billionaire businessman said.
“And I think it’s fair to say this president does change his views - generally it’s one day to the next,” he quipped.
Mr Bloomberg was particularly critical of the President’s decision to begin the US withdrawal process from the Paris Agreement, a deal signed by nearly 200 countries in an effort to curb global carbon emissions, in June 2017.
Mr Trump, at the time, said the accord put American workers - particularly in the coal industry - at an “economic disadvantage,” despite the lack of data to support that claim.
“There is nothing that is going to save coal miners’ jobs, they will continue to decline as technology gets better,” said Mr Bloomberg to CNN in June 2017.
In the wake of the announcement, Mr Bloomberg offered $15m of his own money to help ensure the US still meets the targets for carbon emissions agreed upon in the accord even if the federal government was pulling out.
Bloomberg Philanthropies has helped organise the ‘We Are Still In’ initiative, a bipartisan coalition of more than 1,000 CEOs, mayors, and governors in the US committed to meeting the targets despite the Trump administration's efforts to undermine the Paris deal as well as other environmental regulation.
Mr Bloomberg also launched an effort with local governments and non-state actors to quantify overlapping or combined emissions reduction pledges, to be known as “America's Pledge,” and submit the report to the UN.
"My foundation is interested in spending a lot of money in trying to help us understand that climate change is real, it’s measurable, and that we can do something about it. Hopefully it turns things around," Mr Bloomberg said during the announcement of his post.
Mr Guterres also underscored the importance of the fight to keep global warming to under 2 C on an international scale.
He said the Arctic ice caps are “shrinking much more quickly and dramatically than in the past - so climate change is running faster than we are”.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies