Outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he would do "anything I can" to help lawmakers committed to climate change-friendly policies get elected in 2014.
Although Bloomberg stopped short of saying he would spend money on specific races, he noted in a Tuesday call with reporters that "I certainly look at the overall voting records and interests of elected officials. ... I certainly am putting a lot of money into environmental causes."
Referring to increasingly destructive storms and weather that some scientists have linked to a warming planet, Bloomberg said, "I think across America there's a much greater understanding that something is going on. And what we have to do is make sure that the political leaders here have the courage to" address climate change.
The possibility of Bloomberg wading more deeply into the nexus of Congress and climate change would add to a list of policy issues on which the multi-billionaire has flexed his muscle — and could provide considerable backing to candidates advocating climate positions.
Bloomberg has funded a pro-gun control super PAC that helped tip a special election earlier this year to Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., as Bloomberg's outfit ran negative advertisements against her Democratic pro-gun challenger, former Rep. Debbie Halvorson. He also has been outspoken in support of changing immigration laws.
To be sure, Bloomberg has long been active on climate change. He has proposed a $19 billion plan to strengthen New York City against extreme storms, such as Hurricane Sandy, that scientists say are exacerbated by climate change.
Bloomberg's charity donated $50 million to the Sierra Club for an effort aimed at closing one-third of the nation's coal-fired power plants by 2020. He has been chairman of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a collection of big cities looking to cut carbon emissions.
He spoke about C40 during the Tuesday call, noting that the organization was largely locked out of the 2009 U.N. climate change talks in Copenhagen. At that conference, industrial nations set a goal of curbing greenhouse gas emissions enough by 2020 to avoid a 2-degree Celsius global temperature rise by the end of the decade.
Emissions are rising at a rate that makes reaching that goal unlikely. And now, at the climate talks that concluded last week in Warsaw, Poland, nations are looking to C40 for advice, Bloomberg said.
"Now the international community is looking to cities and C40 for leadership on climate change. That's a dramatic shift," he said.