As concern about climate change continues to grow, so does interest in developing cleaner energy sources. Matthew J. Razzano looks at how some US states have created green banks, which aim to finance green projects by promoting private investment. Green banks in states like New York and Connecticut, he writes, could provide a road map for the federal government to create a nation-wide version.
Read Matthew’s full piece.
WRITTEN BY Jennifer Weiss and Jeffrey Schub
North Carolina is facing troubling and uncertain times. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, and public health measures rightfully have been put in place to slow the spread, a wide array of industries are in a tailspin, and tens of thousands are out of work.
North Carolinians are hurting right now. The economic stimulus package recently passed by Congress should help. But more help will likely be needed down the road.
Additional stimulus measures should focus on areas where new jobs can be created quickly once the bell rings and Americans can go back to work. We have an opportunity to do that — to put people back to work — while building a sustainable future by creating jobs in clean energy infrastructure, clean transportation and energy efficiency.
Congress could make this vision a reality through a national green bank, or clean energy fund. Green banks leverage public capital to mobilize private investment in clean energy projects. Creation of an independent, nonprofit green bank, or National Climate Bank, has been proposed in House and Senate bills and the idea has earned bipartisan support in the past. As Congress considers additional stimulus measures in the wake of the pandemic, it should include creation of a National Climate Bank to finance clean infrastructure and construction jobs across the United States. Our research shows that $35 billion invested in such a bank will create more than 5 million jobs over five years.
Why should North Carolinians care about this at a time of crisis such as this one? Because green banks are proven models for creating jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions while serving low-to-moderate income, rural and vulnerable communities. While the National Climate Bank could finance projects that are regional or national in scope, it could also provide capital to state and local green banks better suited to finance smaller local projects.
And North Carolina is uniquely poised to take advantage of investment from such a green bank.
North Carolina’s Clean Energy Plan recommends development of a statewide green bank to catalyze development of clean energy markets by connecting private capital with clean energy projects. With the assistance of the Coalition for Green Capital and Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, North Carolina stakeholders have already started to assess the market opportunities for a statewide green bank.
Some time soon — not tomorrow, but not a year from now — we’ll be able to go back to work. North Carolina’s economy and workforce will be forever changed by this crisis. The state has been a leader in clean energy workforce development for years. A 2019 report from the state Department of Commerce outined opportunities for continued growth in the state’s clean economy workforce. Funding from the National Climate Bank would enable the state to capitalize on those clean energy workforce opportunities, providing desperately needed jobs and investment right away while putting us on a course for a more sustainable future.
Thousands of North Carolinians badly need jobs right now. Let’s put them back to work. And let’s do so by creating good jobs that build a sustainable future for all of us.
Jennifer Weiss is a senior policy associate in the Climate and Energy Program at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. Jeffrey Schub is executive director of the Coalition for Green Capital.
Today marks the 10-year anniversary of the BP Oil Spill. Many lessons were learned after the spill and since. CGC Board Member David Hayes’ two pieces looks at several.
Make sure all Americans have access to telehealth
By Lucy McBride and Reed Hundt
As the covid-19 pandemic tears through the country, weaknesses in our communications and health-care systems have been laid bare. Approximately 25 percent of Americans do not have a primary care doctor, in many cases because of geographic, financial, physical or child-care-related obstacles. To alleviate some of these problems, many medical professionals across the country have already been experimenting with managing patients virtually through videoconference, phone or email.
But Congress must do more to assure that every American has access to telemedicine. That will save lives now and in the future.
As covid-19 makes visiting health-care centers more dangerous, doctors are using telehealth to provide not only medical advice but also a vital human connection. Telehealth also allows for increased access to critical mental-health-care services. When doctors deliver physical and mental health services in tandem, health outcomes improve.
Swift and decisive government action must expedite the shift to telemedicine. Doctors need affordable and secure video conferencing, access to electronic patient records and the ability to collaborate with other doctors remotely. And every American must have at least a smartphone and high-speed broadband at home. On both ends of the doctor-patient virtual relationship, Congress must allocate additional funding. We estimate $75 billion would achieve the goal.
It is imperative that we work to bring affordable high-speed connectivity to every health-care provider and American in parallel with efforts to invent and administer a vaccine. Yet, no single agency has the mission of simultaneously solving both sides of the shift of the doctor-patient relationship from the real to the virtual sphere. To this end, Congress should establish a nonpartisan commission of health-care and telecom tech experts. The commission would pass the regulations and spend the money necessary to give us a more connected and healthier future.
Lucy McBride is a practicing internal medicine physician in Washington. Reed Hundt is a former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission under President Bill Clinton and author of “A Crisis Wasted: Barack Obama’s Critical Decisions.”
After the United States quashes the coronavirus, the hard work will be just beginning.
Millions of jobs will need to be created—and fast.
It’s why the creation of a National Climate Bank is more urgent than ever. That was the main message during the Coalition for Green Capital’s webinar. We were fortunate to have Rep. Debbie Dingell join us. She provided an update on efforts to stimulate the economy and underscored how a national climate bank is key to this effort.
Leaders of state green banks–which the national proposal is modeled after—outlined the success they have had. The banks have proven to be a quick and efficient way to distribute funds for clean energy and transportation infrastructure projects that create jobs. In fact, many of the banks received this initial funding from the 2009 Recovery Act during the last financial crisis.
The Connecticut Green Bank’s Bryan Garcia, Michigan Saves’ Mary Templeton and Florida’s SELF Doug Coward outlined the job impacts their banks have had and how the projects have reduced emissions.
If you missed the briefing, don’t worry. You can watch it here.
After the virus, we have to get America going again. To do that, we need jobs and as today’s briefing outlined, there are few better ways to do just that than build clean energy and transportation infrastructure.
No malign fate or cruel god dictates the number of Americans who must die from contracting COVID-19 or lose their livelihoods because of the necessary shut-down of social activity. Imagination and collective action can both win the Corona War and also create millions of productive new jobs for what is already the largest sudden displacement of the workforce in the history of the United States.
Congress should contemplate what was not done in the 2009 stimulus: create new institutions of government and new public-private partnerships to accomplish concrete goals. Already the existing government bureaucracy has demonstrated it is not well-designed for such purposes as distributing cash or making loans at the scale, say, of any financial technology start-up, a video conferencing firm, or a food delivery app on a smart phone. Instead of railing against 20th century processes, Congress ought to seize the opportunity of the next legislation to guarantee that what it intends actually happens.
Step one is to build the world’s best health care system. Let’s create an independent health care commission that, like the Federal Reserve, stands apart from politics. It should be authorized to command national action including stay-at-home orders and critical supply chain management. As fine a job as some governors are doing, the pandemic is a national problem that requires some national solutions
We also should have a public-private agency for funding and coordinating research and development during and after the Corona crisis. Such entities exist for defense and energy, but the health care system lacks the coordinating framework this and any crisis requires. To set this up an obvious candidate is Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates, who is probably the single most important philanthropist in the health care field on the planet today.
Lastly, federal law should automatically fund state and local public health efforts in the same way that social security and unemployment compensation automatically pay out money on demand. It is absurd that state and local officials have to be lobbying Congress for federal money when they obviously have to carry the burden of defeating disease in their geographic areas.
Step two is to create the public-private partnerships that should create millions of productive new jobs during the long climb back from depression level joblessness to full employment. The three platforms suitable for public-private investment are: an adequate transportation system, clean power system from renewable generation to high voltage transmission to resilient distribution grids, and affordable universal broadband. In each of these markets, public money joined up with two to four times as much private money can create millions of jobs. This technique, sadly rejected in the 2009 stimulus, also can keep federal spending from approximating infinity, bring discipline to actual spending and end the phenomenon of secular stagnation that has denied the country even a three percent growth rate for now a decade.
This is no time for the United States, and especially not the people’s branch, Congress, to think small. Bold, broad, visionary action — legislation that calls us all to act together — is the way to defeat not only the virus but also the sense that America simply cannot solve its problems in or after a crisis.
Franklin Roosevelt assumed the presidency when unemployment was 25 percent. Some thought democracy had proved itself incapable of addressing the economic crisis. His undying inaugural address called the nation to bold action. Under his leadership, new institutions and forms of public-private cooperation were created. Some have since disappeared and others are past their useful life. Now is the time to create a Rooseveltian political consensus and a set of new institutions and business-government understandings that can endure for generations to come.
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