Bloomberg weighs 2014 climate battles

Outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg might use some of his fortune on behalf of 2014 candidates who are hawkish on battling climate change.

On Tuesday Bloomberg, who is leaving office Jan. 1, told reporters he would continue focusing on climate initiatives through his philanthropy.

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But he also held out the prospect of wading directly into congressional races next year. Bloomberg, asked about raising climate change in political contests, initially noted that there’s a “limited number” of things he can focus on, emphasizing gun control and immigration.

But later Bloomberg added that he would do “everything I can to help those people who want to protect the health of our planet get reelected.” An aide later clarified that Bloomberg is “leaving the door open” to climate-related political work.

Bloomberg spoke to reporters Tuesday to announce that Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes will take over from Bloomberg as chairman of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.

Bloomberg could get involved in political races through his super-PAC or individual donations.

He hasn’t been shy about wading into politics. He endorsed President Obama for reelection late in the 2012 campaign, largely on the basis of climate change policy.

In recent months Bloomberg supported the pro-gun control candidate who won an Illinois congressional seat and backed Colorado state legislation, which succeeded, to expand background checks and limit the size of magazines.

However, two members of the Colorado legislature who backed the bill lost recall elections, despite financial support from Bloomberg.

Whether he backs specific candidates next year on the basis of their climate views, the billionaire Bloomberg left no doubt Tuesday that he would continue using his money on climate initiatives.

“I certainly am putting a lot of my own money into environmental causes,” Bloomberg said.

“The commitment from Bloomberg Philanthropies is anything but small and is certainly getting stronger,” he said.

His work on climate change to date has included a four-year, $50 million grant to the Sierra Club, announced in 2011, for the organization's work against coal-fired power plants.

Bloomberg announced Tuesday that he would stay on as president of the C40 board and that his philanthropy will continue to support the group, which is a network of large cities that works on climate change.

“As President of the Board, Mayor Bloomberg will oversee day-to-day operations of the organization’s professional staff and serve as a key counselor to both the new chair and the organization,” C40 said in announcing the new chairman and Bloomberg’s continued role.

Bloomberg told reporters that evidence showing the need for addressing climate change is getting stronger by the day.

“We cannot take our foot off the gas,” he said.