At Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Atlanta, billionaire activist Tom Steyer tried to stake out a spot as the leading candidate on climate change — a role that has more or less been up for grabs since Washington Gov. Jay Inslee dropped out of the race. But Steyer also took a shot from former Vice President Joe Biden for his past investments in coal mining.
“I’m the only person on this stage that will say climate is the No. 1 priority to me,” Steyer said, adding that he thought Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachussetts “won’t say it.”
“I would declare a state of emergency on Day One,” said Steyer, who promised to use the “emergency powers of the presidency” to push for cuts in carbon emissions while making it “the No. 1 priority of my foreign policy as well.”
Biden said he did think climate change is “the No. 1 issue,” but added that “I don’t need the lecture from my friend” Steyer, who built part of his wealth at a hedge fund that heavily invested in coal mining.
Steyer responded: “I came to the conclusion over 10 years ago that climate as the absolute problem of our society,” and has since spent much of his money in favor of environmentalist causes.