Since Tom Steyer fell out During the presidential race in February, he was busy preaching on his favorite subject, climate. That is, both the political and the earthly.
Steyer, advisor to Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, warns that the planet is imminent if bold and urgent action is not taken. But it's not all doom and gloom, says Steyer, billionaire and former hedge fund manager. Humanity could still snatch prosperity from the pines of environmental destruction.
capital caught up with Steyer, whose name was floated for possible Biden cabinet placement. He explained the Democratic Ticket's stimulus plans, which combine financial incentives and environmental policy. The discussion ranged from the way Steyer reads the markets to the technological breakthroughs he's most excited about (see: Electric Vehicles, Offshore Wind Farms, and More).
Here is this conversation, edited and condensed for clarity.
capital: Which is the bigger crisis in this country, COVID or climate?
Tom Steyer: I don't separate these. It is our ability to deal with the natural world. It's about dealing with the facts, dealing with the science, and considering what you need to do to avoid disaster. Joe Biden intends to deal with them in a way that also takes into account our high unemployment rates and the need to create well-paying middle-class jobs. Mr. Trump did nothing but a breath.
What would a Biden presidency mean?
The biggest thing the Biden campaign has proposed is the $ 2 trillion. "better dismantle"Plan to rebuild America's infrastructure over four years with a view to climate and clean energy – but that's not limited to that. It includes building affordable homes and charging stations for electric vehicles. That includes weathering millions of homes, restoring HVAC in commercial buildings and rebuilding the grid to accommodate renewables, it's a huge infrastructure contract, this is critical.
The president says the plan costs too much and will destroy the economy.
The exact opposite is true. Have you read Mr. Trump's taxes? Are you going to listen to this guy from business or business? I did two studies at Hank Paulson and Mike Bloomberg five or six years ago with the help of American CEOs and politicians named "a risky endeavor“To show that moving to clean energy creates faster growth, more and better paid jobs, and better health, while avoiding climate catastrophe. It's a win, win, win. Clean energy is cheaper than fossil fuel energy. Trump either doesn't know what he's talking about or he's lying. Those are the only options.
What does it cost the country – or the planet – to delay action?
Unpredictable. Your generation will have to deal with this every day for the rest of your life.
I live in california. Over 4 million acres have been burned so far this year. The record before that was two years ago, 1.9 million acres. The Gulf has a record number of hurricanes. If you have a strong stomach, read how the now unstoppable melting of the Greenland and Antarctic glaciers is affecting sea levels. This is not a problem that you can wait four years with. No, this problem will only escalate until we get it under control.
China makes bold commitments. It should be "Carbon neutral” by 2060. Do you believe or trust China's leadership? when it makes such statements? Is there any hope that the US and China will work together?
I don't want the people of the United States to suffer terribly, and I don't think the Chinese leadership wants the people of China to suffer terribly. We can only solve this together. There is a great business and economic opportunity here. We can either take it or not.
Where should the US focus its attention?
Think about growth. Will the growth come from us to gain marginal market share in the combustion business, or will it come from us to build a whole new business in electric vehicles? Will we grow by developing new coal power plants? Or will we grow by finding entirely new, clean ways to generate electricity?
Elon Musk would love to hear from you about promoting electric vehicles.
All I can say is that the market is speaking very loudly here – very, very loudly in terms of where we are going. The Republican Party is not listening. Just look at where people think the future is – whether these are the balance sheets of our largest banks or the valuations of companies on freely traded exchanges. We want America to be energy independent. Let's talk about how we're going to do this.
Which technologies are you currently most enthusiastic about?
We can see how much better the battery will be and where solar prices will go in the next year or two. But can you really tell me how big the offshore wind is? It could be huge. Can you really tell me where we are going with clean hydrogen? This is a game changer.
As a former hedge fund manager, what advice could you have for people looking to weather this period of economic uncertainty?
I no longer give investment advice. I always tell people that if you want to do it, do it all day – be totally committed. But I will say that. Investing in the past never worked. We literally have to rebuild this country. Drive around and look. We have to rebuild the infrastructure and accelerate it. This is a great business opportunity.
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