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Dingell Leads House Bill to Establish a National Climate Bank to Finance the Clean Economy Transition

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) introduced legislation establishing a National Climate Bank to publicly finance and stimulate private investment in clean, renewable energy and emissions reduction projects. The National Climate Bank will use public capital to stimulate private investment in a range of projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the nation’s clean economy transition across many sectors. It will be funded with $35 billion over six years, in an effort to mobilize up to $1 trillion in private investment. National Climate Bank capital and technical assistance will make more projects economically competitive in more communities nationwide, to the benefit of investors, energy consumers, workers, and local economies.

“To properly tackle climate change an aggressive agenda is required that addresses all fronts of the crisis. To get to a fully clean economy, we need comprehensive efforts to spur innovation in the economy, technology, and society. Establishing a National Climate Bank will serve as an important implementation tool to achieve this goal by publicly financing and stimulating private investments in clean, renewable energy projects, clean transportation, and support communities most effected by climate change,” said Dingell. “The National Climate Bank Act builds on the successful Green Bank example in Michigan, and mobilizes investment directly into the greenhouse gas emissions reduction projects most in need of capital. The expansion of these projects will create good jobs, a strong future workforce, and deliver a clean economy that works for communities in Michigan and across the country.”

The National Climate Bank Act of 2019 is cosponsored by Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), and Cindy Axne (D-IA). A Senate version of the bill was introduced by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). Similar legislation, the Green Bank Act of 2019, was introduces by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Representative Jim Himes (D-CT).

“A climate bank is a model for how the financial, government, and private sectors can work together to leverage investment in climate action,” said Sen. Markey. “Finding innovative ways to capture and accelerate the momentum of the green economy is the kind of American ‘can-do’ spirit that we will need to combat the climate crisis. This National Climate Bank would use public funding to drive private investment in projects that would cut our energy use and decrease carbon emissions. And it would scale and expand the reach of green banks in the United States that are already making a difference for the climate and our communities.”

The bill establishes a National Climate Bank as an independent non-profit capitalized with $35 billion of federal funds spread over a six-year period. The National Climate Bank will finance clean energy and emissions reductions projects across several sectors, as well as efforts focused on adaption and climate resiliency. It will use proven Green Bank techniques to leverage private co-investment and support a clean energy economy without raising consumer costs. Analysis by the Coalition for Green Capital has found that a National Climate Bank could mobilize up to $1 trillion in total investment. Key features of the National Climate Bank include:

  • Mobilizing direct investment into clean energy and emissions reduction projects. This includes renewable power generation, clean transportation, electric vehicles, transmission, storage, efficiency, industrial decarbonization, and forestry. As an independent institution, the National Climate Bank will be able to actively seek out projects that will maximize both emissions reductions, consumer benefits, and local economic benefits. National Climate Bank capital and technical assistance will make more projects economically competitive in more areas, to the benefit of investors, energy consumers, workers, and local economies.
  • Supporting environmental justice and quality job creation. The National Climate Bank will prioritize investments in frontline, rural, low-income, and environmental justice communities that face the harshest impacts of climate change and pollution. It will also aim to invest in communities economically affected by the transition away from fossil fuels and towards as clean economy to support job creation and economic development. To ensure good jobs for American workers, the bank will prioritize project labor agreements and ensure prevailing wages.
  • Establishing new Green Banks where they don’t exist. The National Climate Bank’s techniques are informed by the successful track record of state and local Green Banks already operating across the United States. These institutions have strong ties to their communities and deep understanding of local markets, resulting in nearly $4 billion of investment. To expand this model to all communities, the National Climate Bank will provide technical assistance and start-up operating funds to launch new Green Banks across the country.
  • Capitalizing state and local Green banks. The National Climate Bank will provide capital to existing and new state and local Green Banks to invest in small-scale and distributed energy projects where local context is key. These institutions have proven their ability to invest in underserved communities, helping to make clean energy affordable and accessible to all.

These features make the National Climate Bank an integral part of a comprehensive policy approach to push the economy towards one that is clean, make the United States a leader in manufacturing and deploying clean technology, and secure and grow good jobs, while helping heed the call by the scientific and international communities to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The National Climate Bank will ensure that this transition benefits all Americans by avoiding consumer cost impacts, investing in communities affected by the climate crisis, and accelerating the transition to a clean economy by mobilizing private capital.

A summary of the National Climate Bank Act is available here, and the full bill text is available here.

“Congresswoman Dingell like her husband before her has been a leader for years in the battle against climate change. Her introduction of this bill is a landmark event with historic significance for which I personally am thankful. The National Climate Bank takes a proven, successful model and scales it up to the level that’s required to meaningfully battle climate change: trillions rather than billions of dollars,” said Reed Hundt, CEO of the Coalition for Green Capital.

“As a member of the American Green Bank Consortium, Michigan Saves is proud to stand with CGC and with Congresswoman Dingell in support of the green bank approach. Michigan Saves has enabled more than $200 million in public and private investment, with the average household participating in a Michigan Saves program saving over $1,200 on their gas and electric bills,” said Mary Templeton, President and CEO of Michigan Saves.

“Establishing a historic National Climate Bank presents a pivotal opportunity to invest in America's booming clean energy economy while simultaneously equitably investing in workers, and taking on the climate crisis. The Sierra Club applauds Congresswoman Dingell for her continued commitment to building an equitable American clean energy economy that supports workers, our communities, and climate action," said Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club.

"In recent years, state and city level climate banks have proven financially self-sustaining and successful in spurring new private investment in renewable energy and energy efficient buildings. These technologies create quality jobs, reduce carbon, air and water pollution and create savings for families and businesses  Now, state and local climate banks are leading the way in investing in mobility as well as in adaptation and resilience to speed our recovery when disaster strikes. The National Climate Bank Act will ensure that the entire country can make these critical investments, which include driving the necessary investment in communities affected by loss of fossil-fuel related businesses," said Doug Sims, Director, Green Finance Center, the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

“Given the scale of investment needed to decarbonize the economy, public capital must be strategically deployed to leverage much greater amounts of private capital. Establishing a National Green Bank – as C2ES outlined in Getting to Zero: A U.S. Climate Agenda – would do precisely that by driving private investment in the solutions we need to meet the climate challenge,” said Bob Perciasepe, President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

"Affordable and accessible financing will be a key part of any climate change policy package developed by Congress," said Jason Hartke, President of the Alliance to Save Energy. "The Alliance to Save Energy applauds Representative Dingell's leadership in introducing the National Climate Bank Act in the House. This critical bill will allow families and businesses across the country to save money on their energy bills while creating local jobs and strengthening the economy."

"By driving an unprecedented wave of investment into clean energy projects, the National Climate Bank will help us decarbonize faster and with cheaper power. Environment America thanks Congresswoman Dingell for her leadership in advancing this part of an ambitious agenda to fight climate change," said Jesse Torrence, Senior Director at Environment America.

“To tackle climate change, we need to change what we’re investing in and re-focus on zero-carbon, clean energy technologies. Representative Dingell’s proposal for a National Climate Bank will help us get there by leveraging a modest public investment to attract the enormous potential of private capital to state and regional climate action and investments in low-carbon technologies. And Representative Dingell’s National Climate Bank Act focuses on underserved and disadvantaged communities to make sure the transition to a clean energy economy is fair and equitable,” said Sam Gomberg, Senior Energy Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists.


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