Mayor Michael Bloomberg this morning left the door open to using his vast fortune to support candidates who are strong on climate change issues in 2014′s congressional races.
Mr. Bloomberg, who is expected to remain deeply involved in politics after he leaves City Hall at the end of this year, did not explicitly commit to writing checks–but said he would “do everything I can to elect people who take environmental issues seriously.”
“I will make phone calls and do everything I can to help those people who want to protect the health of our planet get re-elected,” he told reporters during a morning conference call, when asked repeatedly if he’d be supporting congressional candidates he feels are strong on climate change issues in 2014.
Mr. Bloomberg had been on the phone to announce that he is stepping down from his role as chair of the C40 Climate Leadership Group, a coalition of cities working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Mr. Bloomberg will be replaced by Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, who will officially take the reins on December 15. (Mr. Bloomberg will remain president of the group’s Board of Directors, Mr. Paes said.)
Asked whether he would add climate change to his roster of favored causes, including gun control and immigration reform, Mr. Bloomberg acknowledged that “there’s just a limited number of things that I can focus on,” but still doubled down on his commitment–both at the local and national levels.
“Well, I care very much about the climate,” he began. “What I will try to do is help some of the C40 cities and other cities around America focus on what they can do to reduce their emissions, reduce the content, the amount of energy they need and make their buildings and practices more green with time.”
He pointed to his existing commitments, including work by Bloomberg Philanthropies on oceans, a $50 million contribution to the Sierra Club to try to close coal-fired plants and $20-plus million dollars to the C40–and said those on the call could “expect us to even go further.”
“I think across America, there’s a much greater understanding that something is going on,” he said, pointing to the incoming Thanksgiving storm as well as a rash of recent tornadoes and floods “in a lot of places where those things never existed.”
“What we have to do is make sure that the political leaders here in America have the courage to address those,” he said. “And then the same thing is true around the world.”