NEW YORK – There are few areas of public discourse where the old adage, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” is more applicable than climate change. Given that fossil fuels are the lifeblood of the global economy, nobody has clean hands – and those who wish to lead the battle against global warming risk attracting the charge of hypocrisy. They must therefore be transparent about what they are willing to offer and how it affects their own interests.
The billionaire former hedge-fund manager Tom Steyer is a case in point. Steyer recently pledged to donate $100 million to candidates in the 2014 US midterm elections who favor aggressive action to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. But Steyer’s own hedge fund, it soon emerged, had financed an Australian coal mine that is projected to produce hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 emissions over the next three decades. Steyer has since left the hedge fund and sold his coal interests, though it was unclear until recently whether he was still benefiting from his investments.