One of the big obstacles to implementing sweeping federal change is figuring out how to educate people. The divisive problem of climate change has been particularly thorny, for despite broad acceptance (and lobbying) by the scientific community the issue has had perplexing difficulty in spurring large-scale legislative change. But you know what gets people’s attention? Money. Politicians tend to listen to banks. Enter “green banks,” which align the interests of government energy policy and the private sector–and help make commercial lending to sustainable enterprise attractive and profitable. Tired of asking businesses to do good, government is slowly coming around to the fact that they’d rather do well.
Connecticut and New York have so far been early adopters in the green bank space. Now the Coalition for Green Capital, a DC-based NGO working to establish more green banks, is inviting state energy and finance officials from around the country to The Green Bank Academy, a two-day event (February 6-7, 2014). It’s an everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about Green Banks 101 conference. Congressman Chris Van Hollen (MD) will detail his upcoming federal green bank legislation at the conference, and look for input. Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Daniel Esty will address what’s so far lacking in green bank development and collaboration, and Chairman of Energy and Finance for New York, Richard Kauffman, will discuss the highs and lows of building alliances between green banks and existing state energy policies. Here’s a word you’ll hear a lot: incentives.