Biden climate envoy John Kerry talking to banks, asset managers about mobilizing capital for clean energy


U.S. climate envoy John Kerry speaks at a press briefing at the White House in Washington, January 27, 2021.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

John Kerry, the U.S. special envoy for climate, is holding discussions with leaders in the financial sector about how to mobilize capital for green technology and clean energy, as President Joe Biden aims to the put the nation’s economy on course for net-zero emissions by 2050.

“I am in discussions right now with a number of our largest asset managers and major banking institutions with hopes that we can begin to understand where the capital could come from and how it can go to these sectors,” the former secretary of state told anchor Brian Sullivan at a CNBC Evolve event on Thursday.

Kerry said he has no doubt a partnership will emerge between the private sector and the federal government on clean energy. The Biden administration has proposed $2 trillion of investments to help build out a green economy.

Kerry pointed to the growing popularity of ESG investing – or environmental, social and governance investing – as an example of the private sector in action. He also noted the use of shell companies known as SPACs, or special purpose acquisition companies, to finance green energy.

“What you’re seeing with the plethora of SPACs that are being deployed as well as other investing is there’s going to be a race in this direction and that’s exactly what we need,” Kerry said.

Kerry’s comments come two days after Axios reported he appointed Wall Street veteran Mark Gallogly to his international climate team.

Data suggest climate-related industries and jobs are growing in the U.S. and globally.

The world invested $501.3 billion in renewable power, electronic vehicles and other low-carbon technologies in 2020, Bloomberg reported.

Generate Capital projected U.S. investment in solar and wind energy to total $55 billion in 2020. Earlier this week, the Department of Energy announced it had tapped Generate Capital co-founder and former solar industry executive Jigar Shah to be the director of its Loan Programs Office, which oversees over $40 billion in loan authority.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected wind turbine service technicians will be the fastest-growing occupation from 2019-2029, with solar photovoltaic, or solar panel, installers being the third fastest.

“When America races in that kind of direction with capital moving, that capital allocation is making a decision for all of us and in the end is going to result with significant wealth being created, significant numbers of jobs,” Kerry said.

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