Why it Matters
Most people recognize climate change as an existential threat to humanity and nature and many want to do something about it. As global nations struggle to develop large scale and long term solutions, cities and municipalities have become key loci for fighting climate change.
Access to capital at a local level is a critical factor to fund projects that help cities, towns, and rural areas mitigate as well as adapt to a warming climate, especially as federal, state, and local governmental budgets tighten. This is particularly the case when it comes to supporting low and moderate income households and small businesses to implement solutions. One promising means to create a solid source of project funding that is being used by communities around the country is the creation of a local climate fund. These funds let contributors offset their own carbon usage in the process.
The Triangle Community Carbon Fund is designated to help capitalize the transition to a just and sustainable green economy, locally, by providing funds for energy conservation and renewable energy projects. This carbon fund program sets a local price on carbon and program participants, both private citizens and businesses, make voluntary, tax-deductible donations to offset their carbon usage.
Contributions to the fund will support, or subsidize, local projects that provide effective and efficient means to reduce/eliminate/reverse emissions of greenhouse gases and promote renewable energy use. Unlike global or national scale offset programs, by offering a fund at the local level, communities buffer themselves from broader economic forces, give themselves more decision-making control, and build community resilience. Project funding decisions prioritize efforts to support low and middle income households, businesses, and organizations, including creating green job opportunities and emphasizing local hiring, thus promoting a just and equitable transition.
A local climate fund is not the silver bullet to solve climate change. However, funds like the Triangle Community Carbon Fund can serve as a catalyst for the substantial initial burden of cost necessary to transition. There is still a need for substantial financial infusion like municipal bond funds that can be used to leverage local lending institutions to invest in projects that achieve greater public goods than are shown on their bottom line, and promoting investment tools like interest rate buy downs and risk insurance that could help ramp up available capital. It is critical that financial markets and budgeting processes place a price on carbon that reflects the rate of decarbonization we need to achieve to keep our planet from warming beyond the 2.7°F (1.5°C) scientists have conservatively identified as a tipping point for catastrophic climate change.
By demonstrating successes, the fund acts as a catalyst to investment.