Billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer has taken to doctoring his own biographical history to make himself seem more genuine.
In a Sept. 28, interview on MSNBC’s All in with Chris Hayes, Steyer told Hayes that his climate “conversion” happened a full ten years earlier than it actually did. Unfortunately for Steyer -- but fortunately for everyone who cares to know the truth -- he told a very different story in June 2014.
When Steyer was asked when he “came to the realization” that climate change was the issue for the current generation, Steyer replied, “Well, I think somewhere around 2002, 2004.” He then elaborated, “in my spare time -- um -- I started to think more broadly and to see that there was a huge part of life that I felt I was missing and as I started to think beyond the financial world, I started to see that there was one issue that I thought would define our success.”
It’s a nice story, but completely inaccurate. In reality, Steyer was working with fossil fuel investments until 2012, and did not fully divest from them until June 2014.
If Steyer actually realized that climate change was a serious issue way back in 2004, that means he spent an egregiously hypocritical eight years profiting from his work at Farallon Capital Management, a hedge fund Steyer founded that invested in coal mining and oil and gas companies.
According to Reuters, Steyer’s Farallon funded buyouts of coal mines and plants quadrupled Indonesia’s coal production between 2002 and 2012, and “triggered worries among environmentalists about pollution and carbon emissions.”
A similar buyout funded by Farallon occurred in 2007. At that time “Farallon provided funds for the sale of Meiya Power, an electric utility that operates four large coal-fired power plants, which collectively produce about 7,000 megawatts of power,” The New York Times reported in July 2014.
The Times claimed the power plants which Farallon have invested in “will produce about 60 million tons of carbon pollution a year, according to Dallas Burtraw, an analyst at Resources for the Future, a research organization in Washington.”
The truth is that Steyer’s “conversion” came much later: not until 2012, according to statements he publicly posted on his NextGen Climate PAC website. Steyer said that his “Road to Damascus conversion” made him realize that “[t]ruly reconciling my values meant selling my ownership stake and divesting the remainder of my investments,” from Farallon Capital Management, which he began doing in 2012.
“I’m now in a position to formally announce that -- as of June 30th -- my personal investments will be 100% divested from fossil fuels,” he proudly announced in 2014.
In the Sept. 28, 2015 interview with Chris Hayes, Steyer vaguely referenced the true timing saying, “I quit my job to do this full time. I did this at the end of 2012, so I’ve been doing this for over three years.” Yet he failed to fess up to the fact that he was still profiting from fossil fuels and coal mining until his full divestment in 2014.
Even the genuineness of his conversion could be motivated by the bottom line. Currently, Steyer has connections to two separate green energy companies, and stands to financially profit from the green energy lobbying that Steyer’s NextGen climate PAC does.