San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer, the largest donor in the 2014 election cycle, says the way to win the debate on the environmental issues he cares about is to emphasize how money in elections and industry lobbyists are hindering a healthier environment.

People may not inherently care about big-picture ideas, he said at a panel discussion on climate change Wednesday sponsored by the Center for American Progress. But they do care about special breaks for big business and the influence big money has on policy.

“People are very worried about the idea that money in politics is getting special privileges, and to the extent they ever see that actual connection between political favors and any kind of contribution, they are very upset about it,” Steyer said.

Steyer failed to mention that Americans won’t see much impact on policy from the nearly $67 million he spent on the 2014 cycle because most of his favored candidates lost.

Part of it is that voters don’t much care about his issues. Just 1 percent of Americans in a Gallup poll  taken Nov. 6-9 said climate or pollution is the greatest issue facing the United States.

Steyer had a different take. He said Democrats lost because they didn’t step up for the environment and make it important to more voters.

“I think that my interpretation of the 2014 elections is, not standing up for the things you deeply believe in is not really a great idea,” he said, echoing the sentiments of many progressives following the Democrats’ idrubbng at the polls.

Steyer said “in this case, particularly given the way that activist Democrats and young people across the country feel about this, not standing up for the things you really believe in, in an attempt to protect yourself, doesn’t feel like a winning strategy.”