C2ES report: national-scale climate bank is a key part of “getting to zero” for US emissions

This post originally appeared on the site of CGC’s campaign for a federal green bank.

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) recently released a comprehensive new agenda outlining a path to carbon neutrality by 2050, developed with input from leading companies across major economic sectors. As part of its core elements, it recommends the creation of a national climate bank, and the expansion of state and local networks of green banks. These recommendations are consistent with the growing consensus that any climate package needs to include low-cost, long-term financing for clean energy projects. In short, Congress should include a “carrot” to go alongside the “stick” represented by regulatory measures. The green bank model has been proven in the states over the past decade, with fourteen green banks across the US driving billions in public and private investment into clean energy projects.

“Mobilizing finance” is one of the four core elements offered in the report:

“Congress should create a national green bank to leverage private investment in clean energy, energy efficiency, and other activities contributing to decarbonization. More states and localities should also create green banks for use in their own markets.”

Another core element is “ensuring a just transition,” which also cuts across sectors and emphasizes priorities which are well-served by the green bank model. The report recommends:

“Policies that could increase the cost of energy should include mechanisms to minimize any cost burden on low-income populations and small businesses. `A share of climate investment should be dedicated to deploying solutions and infrastructure in historically marginalized communities, including urban tree planting, energy efficiency retrofits, community solar, electric vehicle charging, and low- and zero-carbon public transit.”

The establishment of a national-scale climate bank as proposed in the National Climate Bank Act supports each of the recommendations above. It would mobilize private investment, making cost-effective use of public funds to achieve the greatest possible impact. It would provide capital to state and local green banks and technical assistance to establish new ones across the country. The National Climate Bank would provide financing that would lead to the development of energy projects that are competitive on price. And it contains explicit mandates to prioritize investments in climate-vulnerable communities that have been historically under-served.

The C2ES report contains a wealth of sector-by-sector information as well, which is helpful in pointing towards the types of projects in which a National Climate Bank could invest. To get all the details, see the C2ES release and the full text. Getting to zero emissions is an achievable task, and C2ES sets forth a plausible and practical roadmap. The report underscores the urgency of taking action on these priorities as soon as possible, and a Climate Bank is a key part of the comprehensive approach we need.

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