What is the concept behind Clean Energy Victory Bonds?
During World War I, America introduced the concept of Victory Bonds: bonds sold to raise money for the cause and provide a return to investors. This is the same concept that California lawmakers are exploring with their Clean Energy Victory Bond initiative: proposed bonds that, like Victory Bonds of WWI, would support the cause of clean energy while providing a return to investors.
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Doris Matsui, D-Calif. are developing the idea for “clean energy victory bonds” and are trying to pass a bill with theU.S. Department of the Treasury to support the bonds. In their bill, they propose bonds that are available to the public for as low as $25 and backed by the “full faith and credit” of the U.S. government.
“Years ago, victory bonds helped America win World War II and defeat fascism,” says Sen. Udall. “Today, they can also help us combat the existential threat of climate change. Clean energy victory bonds will help us harness the same spirit of patriotism and national commitment that helped unite us to win World War II and channel it into the fight against the climate crisis.” During the first world war, victory bonds raised billions of dollars to help cover the cost of the war. Clean energy victory bonds could provide similar funding for communities across the country to invest in renewable energy.
How would they impact the renewable energy industry?
Money raised from the sale of the bonds would be used to help the federal government invest in projects that would lower its carbon emissions and promote clean, renewable energy development. The lawmakers who have drafted the bill expect that investors would earn back their full investment, plus interest. They estimate that the bond initiative could raise up to $50 billion.
“We all benefit as Americans when we invest in the future of our country,” says Rep. Lofgren. “I am pleased to reintroduce the Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act for the fourth time, as momentum builds in California and across the country for aggressive action on climate change. Americans on both sides of the political divide understand the need for urgent action on the energy and environmental challenges we face. Individual citizens are looking for avenues to take ownership of these efforts, and this legislation provides them with an opportunity to invest within their means in an array of clean energy projects.”
Is there enough public interest?
“This year, we have seen historic levels of interest and activism from the American people in solving the climate crisis. All they want are the tools to engage and contribute to this vision,” notes Matsui. “The American people can do anything they set their mind to, and by creating clean energy victory bonds, we are empowering them to take part in the expansion of clean energy technology.” The bill is supported by organizations including Green America, the American Sustainable Business Council, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the National Wildlife Federation.
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