Logo navbar justice climate fund
← Back to blog

Speech: “Unlocking Climate Solutions in Communities Across America with the GGRF”​

Oct 31, 2023

Senate Climate Change Task Force

"Unlocking Climate Solutions in Communities Across America with the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund"

Prepared Remarks by Trenton Allen

Advisor, Justice Climate Fund

Thank you, Senator Markey and staff for providing the opportunity to speak and discuss the benefits that the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund can deliver to communities across the country.

My name is Trenton Allen, and I am the CEO of Sustainable Capital Advisors, a financial consulting firm based here in Washington, DC but working across the United States and globally to connect capital to sustainable infrastructure solutions. However, I am here today in my capacity as lead advisor to the Community Builders of Color Coalition as they seek to apply directly to the EPA under the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. The Community Builders of Color Coalition is a network of 18 and growing, finance, community and advocacy organizations who are primarily Black Indigenous and People of Color led organizations who have a long history of working with and in low-income and disadvantaged communities across this country.

This coalition is committed to ensuring that communities that they represent not only have a voice but are central in how programs and products are structured, businesses supported, capital deployed, and benefits allocated. The members of this Coalition which includes OFN and Inclusiv, represent nearly 1,200 distinct financial, community and advocacy organizations working in every state including, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, with over $460 Billion in assets combined and located in rural, urban, and tribal communities with lending activity in 2021 in nearly 3 out of 4 US census tracts.

This coalition has come together and aligned behind a singular focus – ensuring that low-income and disadvantaged communities can equitably benefit from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

Currently, low-income households experience a three-times higher energy burden than higher income households. Residential and community solar, energy efficiency upgrades, and other clean energy technology investments are important to easing this and other burdens. The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund is important as it provides much needed capital to fill gaps left by federal and state tax-incentives and private capital markets.

The promise and impact of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund can be seen in the work of members of the Community Builders of Color Coalition.

For example,

  1. Affordable Homes of South Texas Inc. has provided much needed gap funding to allow for the purchase of energy efficient homes which reduced energy costs for a family by 30% compared to non-energy star rated homes;

  2. Northwest Native Development Fund tackles affordable housing and high energy costs by rehabilitating homes and installing solar pv to address the challenges in tribal communities;

  3. Virginia Community Capital has provided solar loans to charter schools, churches and nonprofits to reduce energy costs and their Greenhouse Gas footprint. In addition, VCC established the Community Investment Guarantee Pool to leverage philanthropic capital to support clean energy deployment in low-income communities across the country; and last but not least

  4. Mill Cities Community Investments located in Lawrence, Massachusetts is working through the MASS Save Heat Energy Efficiency and Solar loan programs to provide capital to low-income, immigrant and BIPOC populations.

This important work has already begun, and this is just a small snapshot of the activity on the ground, there remains much to do. In fact, if we were to provide capital for solar, energy efficiency and EV charging infrastructure to just 25% of the owner-occupied low-income households in this country, we would need well over a $100 Billion.

Given the enormous potential demand and need for investment, the intentional and effective allocation of resources is critical. Community organizations and institutions are ideally suited to deploy and amplify green financing in the communities that need it the most. For example, every dollar put into a CDFI catalyzes eight additional dollars in private investment.

From rural communities affected by California wildfires to communities of color in the Gulf of Mexico impacted by extreme weather events, our Coalition members serve those most impacted by climate change and least equipped to invest in climate mitigation and resilience. Enabling and leveraging these institutions ensures that public dollars are directed deep within the communities that the traditional financial sector has often left behind.

I want to close by emphasizing the potential impact of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund on the people and communities that it benefits. Policy comes back to people. By working from the inside out, starting in households to communities to states to the entire country – we can deliver benefits to low-income and disadvantaged communities, reduce the high energy burden and other challenges faced by consumers and improve economic resiliency all while achieving carbon reduction objectives. That’s why the Community Builders of Color Coalition established the Justice Climate Fund as its vehicle to coordinate the joint activities of CDFI loan funds, credit unions, minority deposit institutions, community development banking institutions, green banks and other mission focused partners in not only deploying capital but supporting market transformation stemming from the greenhouse gas reduction fund. In order to reach the most underserved communities, it requires working with organizations that are rooted within and have been serving for decades and in some cases over a century. Every Coalition and Justice Climate Fund meeting, ends with a simple reminder that we are STRONGER TOGETHER and that statement is truer today, as ever. Our communities, congressional districts, states, institutions and country are indeed stronger when we work together. The greenhouse gas reduction fund has given us a chance to come together for our most vulnerable and under resourced communities, shame on us if we don’t seize this opportunity to do this work together to work for the benefit of all our communities.

With liberty and JUSTICE for all

Thank you for your time.