Sustainability and a commitment to protecting the environment are important to Amalgamated Bank and the communities we serve. So, it was natural for us to testify last month before the Council of the District of Columbia to support the Green Finance Authority Establishment Act, which would bolster financial support for sustainability programs in Washington D.C. We are thrilled that Mayor Bowser and the leadership at the District Department of Energy and the Environment have put this proposal forward and are working for its approval by the council.
Our public comments reflect the real work we are doing every day to build a clean and just economy, and to be a green leader in the banking industry. Currently, we are in the process of updating our operations to adopt expansive sustainability polices, including a goal of being 100% powered by clean energy and being net-zero carbon in our operations. In partnership with the D.C.’s Property Assessed Clean Energy Program, Amalgamated Bank has also helped finance the preservation of 84 units of supportive and affordable housing in the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA. The outcome of this effort will generate 30 kilowatts of solar power and decrease annual utility bills by $6,000.
We believe it is crucial to partner with jurisdictions like Washington D.C. to make the biggest impact possible. In part, this is because with no good news coming from the federal government, it is up to states, cities and the private sector to get the job done. But we also share the district government’s commitment to ensuring that a sustainable economy is accessible to all members of the community. If only those that can afford to go “green” do so, then our impact will not reach the critical mass necessary to reverse the damage that has been made to our environment.
Leveraging private capital to finance sustainability in the district is a critical first objective for this new Authority. As a bank, Amalgamated is working to responsibly lend money and achieve the city’s goals by financing projects that drive impact beyond traditional commercial lending. We believe the new Finance Authority will help us do more of that work and reach even more of the district with the benefits of clean energy and environmental protection.
But this isn’t about what Amalgamated Bank likes to do, it’s about what needs to be done. Experts have estimated that global investments in the low carbon economy will need to reach one trillion dollars annually in order to stay on track with the Paris Climate Agreement, and that doesn’t include the United Nations’ estimated expense of $49 to $171 billion per year needed for adaptation and resilience efforts. Clearly, we cannot meet these objectives with public dollars alone. Here in the district, the Authority will make it easier for corporate partners, like us, to contribute private capital to green efforts.
In line with the work we have done with Phyllis Wheatley, we are committed to the goal that clean energy solutions are available for the entire community. It is not enough to expand the deployment of solar energy if only those who can afford it are able to take advantage of the economic benefits of this clean energy system. That’s why this Authority is such a game-changer. It will ensure that even more private capital can flow to the projects and purposes where the market wouldn’t otherwise, and will better serve the entire D.C. population as a whole.
We’re proud of the efforts underway in our nation’s capital, and it’s important that we spread this news far and wide. At a time of so much political gridlock, cities, states and local governments have a unique opportunity to be trailblazers on many of the issues that matter most. By making sure that the District of Columbia Green Finance Authority is a success, we hope leaders across the country take notice and consider how they can do their part to save our planet while stimulating the local economy.