Yesterday the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force on Climate Change made a sweeping set of policy recommendations to the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign. The committee, co-chaired by Former Secretary of State John Kerry and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez provided a roadmap for how the U.S. should address climate change while supporting environmental justice, job creation and good wages. One specific area of recommendations called for new federal financing capabilities that can leverage private investment and specifically direct capital to environmental justice communities.
The concepts described and even the language used by the Task Force mimic that of the green bank model. And more specifically, the recommendation closely aligns with the newly-passed legislation in the House to fund a “Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator” with $20 billion, as well as the express recommendation of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to form a National Climate Bank modelled on the legislation passed last week.
Under the area of policies titled, “Ensure Access to Capital in Environmental Justice Communities,” one recommendation reads:
Building the ability of the federal government to finance infrastructure, including working with states and the private sector to develop an innovative financing mechanism that leverages private sector dollars to maximize investment in the clean energy revolution and environmental justice communities.
Though the term green bank or climate bank is not named explicitly, CGC itself could not have described the National Climate Bank more succinctly. According to the legislation just passed by the House last week, Congress would capitalize a non-profit entity to serve as the national green bank that would be legally required to a) partner with states and communities to build local green bank financing capacity; b) leverage private investment; c) prioritize environmental justice communities and d) seek to maximize emissions reductions per public dollar. The alignment between this recommendation and the legislation is total.
In addition, the recommendation directly below this one states that these policies should achieve their objectives by:
Ensuring that infrastructure investments dedicate a large proportion of support to these communities in deploying or undertaking investments in clean energy, energy efficiency, clean water, clean mobility, environmental remediation, green spaces, green infrastructure and health and safety improvements
This point not only reinforces the prioritization of investment in environmental justice communities (which the legislation requires), but also enumerates a long list of kinds of clean energy and infrastructure projects that need to be eligible for investment. This, too closely aligns with the language of the National Climate Bank legislation, which authorizes investment in 1) renewable energy; 2) energy efficiency; 3) clean transportation; 4) industrial decarbonization; 5) grid infrastructure; 6) sustainable agriculture and forestry and 7) climate-resilient infrastructure. Again, the alignment between the Task Force recommendations and the National Climate Bank legislation is clear.
The entire package of recommendations put forward by the Task Force should be applauded. And for national green bank financing specifically, this document marks yet another exciting step on the march towards buy-in at the highest levels of government.