Michael Bloomberg’s 12-year run as mayor of New York City will end in January. On Tuesday the 71-year-old billionaire said he will continue to use his money and influence to advocate gun control, immigration reform, and climate change.
Bloomberg was speaking to reporters to announce that Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes will succeed him as chairman of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a global network of the cities taking action to confront climate change.
Bloomberg told reporters he would continue focusing on climate initiatives through his philanthropy. When pushed to respond to questions about potentially supporting congressional candidates he feels are strong on climate change issues, he said, “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.”
According to The Hill, an aide clarified the statement by saying that Bloomberg is “leaving the door open” to climate-related political work.
“I think across America, there’s a much greater understanding that something is going on,” Bloomberg said, regarding climate change and recent extreme weather events. “What we have to do is make sure that the political leaders here in America have the courage to address that. And then the same thing is true around the world.”
If Bloomberg bankrolls climate-friendly candidates, he would join a growing list of wealthy donors financing candidates willing to stand up for environmental and climate-related measures in the face of fossil fuel industry resistance and Capitol Hill gridlock.
Early this month Tom Steyer, a California billionaire (a board member at the Center for American Progress), spent $8 million of his own money to help defeat climate denier Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign to be governor of Virginia.
Amongst other tactics, Steyer’s political committee, NextGen Climate Action, aired ads that scolded Cuccinelli for launching an investigation into the research of a University of Virginia climate scientist.
“Tom’s view is that climate and climate change solutions need to be on the ballot in a way they never have before,” Michael Casey, a consultant with NextGen Climate Action, told The National Journal about Steyer.
While climate action as a political issue might be getting more money in this election cycle, it will take a lot more than that to go head-to-head with conservative and fossil fuel groups that have far deeper pockets and political penetration.