As White House Doubles Down on Denial, Treasurer Chiang Pursues New Path to Curb Climate Change
U.S. Investors Controlling More than a Trillion Dollars Share How to Finance Infrastructure and Climate Friendly Projects
January 23, 2017
Contact: Marc Lifsher
SAN FRANCISCO – State Treasurer John Chiang today issued a stinging rebuke to Trump administration climate deniers and reaffirmed California’s support for the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
At the same time, he previewed portions of a major environmental speech in which he makes the case that as the federal government rolls the nation back to a 19th Century dependency on coal and gasoline, the American people can turn to a new, but rapidly growing sector of the bond market to make change and counter the disastrous effects of global warming.
"President Trump may believe global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive," Chiang said. "We Californians stand with the scientific community and the 195 nations that have declared climate change is an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet."
Today, Chiang released a report containing insights gained from a five-city national listening tour marking the first time the investment community had been so systematically canvassed on the state of the green bond market in order to identify barriers to its full development. Three dozen of the nation’s most influential investment firms provided candid analysis on the numerous barriers and opportunities to shifting more of the trillions of dollars they control to environmentally friendly projects.
Green bonds are debt issued by either corporations or public agencies to finance climate-friendly or other environmental projects. They are widely used around the world to raise capital to promote environmental protection, build clean infrastructure and improve living standards.
The report, entitled "Growing the U.S. Green Bond Market", is the first step in Chiang’s multi-stage plan to tap the latent potential in this 8-year-old market and its potential to release a torrent of new and affordable capital for the U.S. to meet its infrastructure and climate change needs for decades to come. Since 2008, this new market has provided $118 billion, globally, to generate solar and wind power, reduce methane emissions, build world-class transportation systems, protect against floods and provide clean drinking water.
With the problem definition in hand, Chiang will next turn his attention to the fall of 2017 when he will convene global experts in finance, public policy, and climate change to break down each of the barriers outlined in today’s report. The solutions will show the way to a U.S. market than can operate at the same velocity and with the same vigor as its counterparts around the world to fund a more sustainable future.
Within one hour of assuming power this past Friday, the Trump administration began marching the nation backward into a policy of retrenchment that ensures its continued dependence on fossil fuels. The new White House said it is eliminating the national Climate Action Plan, as well as key regulations protecting our rivers and streams.
"The fate of our planet and mankind hangs in the balance of a degree or two Celsius. While the overwhelming body of scientific research has established an irrefutable link between global warming and human activity, the skeptics argue that nothing should be done because it is 'too costly,' 'too disruptive,' or 'too soon,'" said Chiang. "The skeptics and deniers are wrong. And they have always been. California is committed to moving forward and I am committed to finding a way to pay for it."
Worldwide the price tag for the transition to renewable energy from fossil fuels is pegged at $93 trillion. The estimate includes $8 trillion for the United States alone.
"Green bonds empower ordinary people to use the marketplace to serve the public good," Chiang said. "We are creating an opportunity for Americans who care deeply about drinkable water, breathable air, and clean transportation to invest in their future."
"And Washington can’t stop us."
Note: Treasurer Chiang is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech today at the 2017 Cleantech Forum in San Francisco. The speech will begin at 5:45 p.m. PT at Parc 55 - Cyril Magnan Ballroom, 55 Cyril Magnin Street, San Francisco, CA.