Victory Bonds for Clean Energy
There aren’t too many issues that unite the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution. But recently, they came together to promote greater financing of clean energy in the United States. Their urgency is shared by the American public at large. Poll after poll shows that Americans across the political spectrum want the same things: clean energy, energy efficiency, and energy independence.
Our reality is considerably different, with the U.S. falling well behind China in clean energy investments. In 2009, China invested twice as much in clean energy, and now controls 35 percent of the global market in solar panels. Clean technology could be a major generator of U.S. jobs, but not if we fall far behind China and other nations in investments.
In order to increase investments in clean energy, create U.S. jobs, and provide all Americans with a safe investment in building their country’s future, Green America is proposing Clean Energy Victory Bonds (CEVBs). Clean Energy Victory Bonds would allow anyone, with an investment of as little as $25, to help finance efficiency and renewable energy innovations around the country. CEVBs draw on the historic example of Victory Bonds in WWII, which brought together millions of people from across the country to support the U.S. war effort. CEVBs could do the same for a new generation of Americans, uniting us in our support for a clean energy future that can help prevent future wars over dwindling fossil fuels and climate change impacts.
CEVBs would have a dramatic impact on clean energy investment in the U.S. They would leverage an initial $7.5 billion investment in the first year to provide up to $150 billion in public and private financing to fund the production of innovative clean energy technologies. In subsequent years, CEVBs could raise $50 billion in investments that could, in turn, promote hundreds of billions of dollars in public and private financing. The money raised by CEVBs could help support the rapid expansion of solar power, the smart grid, and energy efficiency innovations, just to name a few benefits. CEVBs would also allow the U.S. to retire coal plants more expediently, significantly reducing air pollution, mountaintop removal mining, and other health and environmental impacts from America’s most destructive energy sector.
The bonds would pay an annual interest rate back to the buyer, based partially on the energy savings or climate change emissions reductions generated by the investments from Clean Energy Victory Bonds.
We recently asked our members if they would be interested in purchasing CEVBs, and we received an overwhelmingly positive response. Within a matter of hours, thousands of people across the country told us they would be excited to invest hundreds or even thousands of dollars each in CEVBs if they were available.
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Now the government needs to do its part. With Congress likely to be gridlocked on large-scale legislation, making it likely impossible to pass a comprehensive climate bill in the near future, CEVBs offer an innovative opportunity for Americans to unite across party lines to create jobs and begin building a clean energy future. These bonds are designed to spur private sector growth and innovation, will encourage more Americans to be savers, and will make the U.S. more competitive with other nations, while avoiding controversial tax increases or subsidies.
With a continuing recession and high unemployment, Americans need solutions they can rally around and take part in. Past generations enthusiastically invested in their nation’s future. With CEVBs, Americans of all incomes and walks of life can once again build a brighter future for their country.
Todd Larsen wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Todd is corporate responsibility director for Green America, a nonprofit organization that works to harness economic power to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.
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