U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand sent a letter urging the Department of the Treasury’s new Climate Counselor, John Morton, to take swift and aggressive action to combat the climate crisis. Morton has been charged with leading the department’s new Climate Hub and has the unique ability to elevate the Biden-Harris administration’s climate-related goals and leverage financial risk mitigation to confront the threat of climate change. Senator Gillibrand penned this letter alongside Senators Warren (D-MA) and Van Hollen (D-MD), and they have requested a response no later than August 16, 2021. Together, they wrote:
“We are seeking information on how you plan to fulfill this role in the months ahead, including how you intend to coordinate a strategy in response to President Biden’s recent Executive Order, which directs Treasury to issue a report on how Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) member agencies are integrating climate-related financial risk into their policies and programs,” wrote the senators. “Given that FSOC is comprised of a mix of regulators – at both the federal and state levels – with potentially differing priorities, it is imperative that you wield your leadership position in the Climate Hub to support FSOC’s efforts to align these financial regulators and implement strong guidelines to ensure that banks and financial institutions, which continue to finance risky fossil fuel investments, are adequately prepared for climate-related disruptions.”
“We are glad to see that Treasury is committed to exercising its unique responsibilities to develop and deploy economy-wide strategies to mitigate climate-related risks, and we look forward to working together to use every tool available, as quickly as we can. We urge you to develop and implement the bold and long overdue agenda that is necessary to facilitate the transition to a clean energy economy and combat the urgent climate crisis facing us,” wrote the senators.
Secretary Yellen first announced her intention to appoint an official to lead Treasury’s climate efforts during her Senate confirmation hearing in January 2021. In April, the department announced that it was prioritizing a broad range of climate-related policies and that Morton would serve as the first Climate Counselor to lead a newly created Climate Hub as part of its new coordinated climate strategy.
As described by Treasury, this climate policy strategy is to “support the Biden-Harris Administration’s critical climate-related goals,” and includes the following outlined objectives:
- Mobilizing financial resources for climate-friendly investments at home and abroad, and prioritizing the expedited transition of high-emitting sectors and industries;
- Leveraging economic and tax policies to support building climate-resilient infrastructure and ensuring the transition to a net-zero decarbonized economy;
- Ensuring that environmental justice considerations feature centrally in programs, policies, and activities given the disproportionate impacts that climate change has on disadvantaged communities;
- Ensuring that policies designed and implemented to assist with the transition to a lower-carbon economy are broadly just and equitable and support well-paying jobs;
- Helping household, businesses, workers, and investors analyze, stay informed about, and adapt to the economic and financial risks and opportunities associated with climate change;
- Promoting globally consistent approaches to climate-related financial risks; and
- Understanding and mitigating the risks that climate change poses to the stability of the U.S. and global financial system and economy
Gillibrand has long fought to combat climate change, protect our environment, address environmental justice and invest in clean energy. In July of 2021, Senator Gillibrand sent a letter to congressional leadership encouraging the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps (CCC). The landmark Civilian Climate Corps would strengthen climate resiliency by supporting projects such as wildfire preparedness and drought management, support natural climate solutions through investing in the restoration and maintenance of public lands and waters, reduce carbon emissions through investments in a clean energy economy, and more. In May, Senator Gillibrand also introduced her Promoting Energy Alternatives is Key to Emission Reductions (PEAKER) Act of 2021, which would provide financial incentives to facilitate more rapid deployment of clean energy and battery storage to replace aging and dirty peaker plants in disadvantaged communities.
To read the full letter, please click here.