Coalition for Green Capital (CGC) was founded in 2009 with a mission to halt climate change by accelerating investment in the clean power platform. Based on his experience overseeing the digital revolution as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, CGC’s founder Reed Hundt saw a massive opportunity to accelerate the clean energy transition by creating a national green bank. Set against the backdrop of the Great Recession of 2007 – 2009, CGC developed a theory of change to jump-start the stagnant economy and address the climate crisis at the same time by increasing investments and accelerating the construction of clean energy through a national green bank.
In 2009, CGC helped develop the Green Bank Act. This bill was the first of many legislative efforts to create a national green bank, though sadly, the national green bank’s time had not yet arrived. Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland introduced this bill with the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (“ACES”) to establish a national green bank, and it was one of the few elements of President Obama’s climate agenda with bipartisan support. Even so, ACES did not pass, and CGC pivoted to developing green banks at the state and local levels. CGC hypothesized that achieving state and local success would build a track record, make a difference in the fight against climate change, and make the eventual creation of a national green bank more likely. As Justice Brandeis pointed out, in the same way, that states are the laboratories of democracy, CGC hoped that state green banks would be laboratories of a national green bank.
With this new approach, CGC found that clean energy finance and development were still relatively new in the public sector. The private sector didn’t want to fund smaller-scale investments and deemed them too risky. Additionally, the existing municipal and community development financial systems lacked the tools to accelerate the clean energy transition independently. CGC saw this as an opportunity to design a new approach centered on coalition building to develop public-private partnerships to combat climate change through clean energy development.
Over the next decade, CGC led the green bank movement by supporting the creation of over 20 green banks and advancing the movement through policy advocacy, strategic development, and technical assistance. The first green banks in Connecticut, New York, and Michigan (founded by Secretary Granholm, by former Governor of Michigan) got off to a fast start and quickly began to prove that the green bank model of public-private investment could be a potent tool for an equitable transition. They learned how to fill gaps in clean energy markets, often developing innovative solutions to ensure disadvantaged communities were not left behind. Local green banks acted as incubators of financing solutions and demonstrated to private lenders their creditworthiness. CGC learned from the lessons of these early green banks and began teaching them to aspiring green bankers in other states, eventually building a large and diverse consortium of green banks capable of driving and sustaining a national movement.
CGC created the American Green Bank Consortium (AGBC) to expand and accelerate innovative clean energy investments across the United States. The members are green banks, clean energy financing organizations, and community development financial institutions (CDFIs), sharing a similar mission and operating for the public benefit. The members of AGBC have collectively deployed $9B in clean energy investments. They exist because there’s a need for capital, technical expertise, and support at the local level to finance and deploy clean energy investments. Members of the consortium collaborate and co-invest with a variety of financial institutions – ranging from CDFIs, credit unions, and community banks to commercial and investment banks and private equity. Establishing a national green bank would allow CGC and AGBC members to scale their impact nationwide and be a key player in a just and equitable transition from carbon to clean.
Through the leadership of CGC doing business as the AGBC, the National Green Bank will address climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, and environmental justice through a collaborative approach, including existing green banks, new green banks, CDFIs, credit unions, and other community organizations. Our big green tent approach emphasizes that this work cannot be done alone. A National Green Bank will allow any public investment to be stretched to its full potential, ecosystem development to ensure that all partners can engage to their greatest capacity and wealth building by guaranteeing investments and jobs in disadvantaged communities. The National Green Bank is committed to addressing climate change by bridging capital and community to achieve a just and equitable clean energy transition.