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Climate-Focused Green Banks Could Spur Sustainable Cities, Just Recovery

In an effort to help cities balance climate action with pandemic recovery, C40 Cities has released a guide to establishing local green banks as an equitable, resilient, and sustainable path to achieving both goals.

Touting the creation of such banks as “a move that would help both leverage financing for a green and just recovery from COVID-19 and support the health and safety of residents for decades to come,” the organization released its “step-by-step guide on why and how cities can launch their own local green bank”—that is, a public, semi-public, or non-profit financial institution that “offers a variety of financial products focusing specifically on climate mitigation projects, such as renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.”

That kind of financial institution, notes C40 Cities, can “catalyze private sector investment in local low-carbon, climate-resilient (LCR) infrastructure promoting job creation, spurring the green economy, strengthening equity and inclusion, and delivering on the climate agenda.”

Citing a report from the American Green Bank Consortium, C40 Cities observes that “as of the end of 2019, every dollar of investment made by an American green bank resulted in US$3.60 of total investment in a clean energy economy.”

Curtis Probst, co-CEO of New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation, said green banks have “enormous” potential to spur renewable energy infrastructure. On the local city level, added Claire Markgraf, head of the Financing Sustainable Cities Initiative, the institutions “have the potential to deliver low-cost investment through a self-sustaining mechanism.”