Billionaire Tom Steyer Wants Republicans Talking Climate Too

(Bloomberg) — The declining costs of renewable energy
should provide an opening for Republican presidential candidates
to address climate change on the campaign trail, billionaire
hedge-fund manager Tom Steyer said.

Steyer, who poured $74 million into 2014 congressional and
gubernatorial races and was one of the biggest single political
donors last year, told reporters on Thursday he is planning on
reprising his political spending to make climate change a top-tier issue in the November 2016 elections.

While Steyer declined to detail his spending plans or
endorse a presidential candidate, he said his mission is to get
both Republicans and Democrats outlining their approach to
energy and climate.

“We don’t believe we will have succeeded unless Republican
candidates are acknowledging climate change and talking about
plans for clean energy,” Steyer said. “They may use different
language, they may specifically talk about clean energy and they
may reference the technology changes and cost reductions so that
this becomes a purely economic argument.”

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Martin
O’Malley and Bernie Sanders have all described climate change as
an urgent problem, with Sanders linking the phenomenon to rising
terrorism.

Republicans making a bid for the White House have largely
shied from discussing the extent of climate change or the role
of human activity in exacerbating it. But they have focused
squarely on the economic implications of the issue and
criticized Obama administration rules slashing carbon dioxide
emissions from the power sector.

For instance, in the Nov. 10 Republican presidential
debate, Senator Rand Paul, from coal-rich Kentucky, stressed
that there needs to be balance in “keeping the environment
clean” and growing the economy.

Steyer is the former chief executive officer and majority
owner of Farallon Capital Management, a San Francisco-based
investment adviser he retired from at the end of 2012.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Jennifer A. Dlouhy in Washington at jdlouhy1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net
Elizabeth Wasserman

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