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Over 145 Orgs Call on Secretary Yellen to Name Experienced Climate Champion to Lead Treasury’s Climate Hub

“We urge you to create a Treasury climate hub as soon as possible and appoint a leader who can deliver on President Biden’s commitment to an equitable clean energy future by urgently addressing the financial stability risks from climate change.”

Today, more than 145 organizations from across the United States sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, encouraging her to follow through on her promise to create a robust, well-staffed climate hub at Treasury led by a very senior-level person devoted full-time to climate.

During her confirmation hearing last month, Yellen committed to creating a climate hub at Treasury led by a “very senior-level” person, a position that has yet to be created and filled. Just earlier this week, Deputy Secretary nominee Adeyemo committed to using Treasury’s “full array of tools” to defeat the climate crisis.

The 147 climate, economic, community and business organizations wrote, “We’ve been heartened to see reports indicating that you understand that in order to implement President Biden’s whole-of-government approach to climate, we need someone with deep regulatory expertise and experience at the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department to drive and coordinate an effective agenda among financial regulators”

The groups wrote that “climate change poses a clear threat to the financial system and the economy. Deliberate, organized, and coordinated action from the market and banking regulators is especially urgent as the U.S. has fallen behind.”

The broad and diverse coalition of organizations on the letter include: Americans for Financial Reform, Better Markets, National Fair Housing Alliance, Oxfam America, Public Citizen, Hip Hop Caucus, Indigenous Environmental Network, National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, American Sustainable Business Council, 350.org, Amazon Watch, the Center for Biological Diversity, Ceres, Environmental Defense Fund, Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club, Stop the Money Pipeline, Sunrise Movement, Union of Concerned Scientists, Amnesty International USA, and the Working Families Party.

They wrote, “The climate movement is focused on the role of financial oversight and regulation like never before. Regulators must address not only the risk that climate change poses to financial institutions and the system, but also the risk financial institutions inject into the economy through their high-carbon financing. And they must address the disproportionate impact of reckless carbon-polluting finance on the largely low-income communities of color who bear the brunt of climate harms.”

The full text of the letter and list of its signatories is available HERE.

David Arkush, Climate Program Director, Public Citizen: “A Treasury climate czar will be tasked with integrating the climate crisis into Treasury’s work and driving action by other financial regulators. That is a huge job. And the need is urgent as executive-branch agencies work to fulfill the President’s “whole-of-government” climate mandate and independent financial regulators begin addressing climate-related risks. Secretary Yellen should create this position immediately, appoint a highly qualified, authoritative champion to fill it, and provide them with the staffing and resources they need to be effective.”

Erika Thi Patterson, Campaign Director for Climate and Environmental Justice, Action Center on Race and the Economy: “The fossil fuel industry has been targeting, exploiting, and poisoning Black, Brown, and Indigenous for generations while wreaking havoc on our planet. For years, Wall Street institutions have fueled environmental racism and our climate crisis by investing in fossil fuels. Last week, we saw how the climate crisis harms BIPOC communities first and worst, as the deadly Texas storm left thousands of Black and Latinx families without water and power and exacerbated pre-existing crises. We urge the Treasury Department to take immediate action to restrict our financial system from supporting industries that profit off of climate devastation and racism. We need Secretary Yellen to create a ‘climate hub’ that is led by a very senior level person who will make racial justice a central priority.”

Lisa Donner, Executive Director of Americans for Financial Reform: “We need all of the finance related agencies to step up their game on climate so that the United States can catch up to our international counterparts — and become a climate leader. This important ‘climate hub’ role demands someone with both financial regulatory experience and  expertise on climate finance issues across agencies — from multiple touch points at the Federal Reserve, to climate risk and housing and community development, and much more, in order to succeed.”

Ben Cushing, Financial Advocacy Campaign Manager, Sierra Club: “We cannot tackle the climate crisis if it does not play a central role in decision making at the Treasury Department. That’s why we are heartened by Secretary Yellen’s early signaling that she will establish a hub and assemble a top-tier team to ensure this becomes a reality. To be sure, to lead this effort is a heavy lift and will require a senior-level official with a demonstrated track record in addressing the role financial institutions have in exacerbating the climate crisis. Moving swiftly to establish this team with strong leadership will help advance President’s Biden’s commitment to an equitable clean energy future.”

Dr. Stephen F. Eisenman, Co-Founder and Director of Art and Strategy, Anthropocene Alliance: “The impact of Treasury Department decisions on low-income communities of color is direct. The people we work with along the Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas coasts have all experienced sea level rise and more intense rainfalls resulting in flooding and petrochemical spills. And yet in 2020, the very industries that cause these calamities received an over $90 bailout from the U.S. Treasury!  We need a watchdog at Treasury to make sure our climate financial policy prioritizes public safety, not the interests of the oil industry.”.

Thomas Oppel, Executive Vice President, American Sustainable Business Council: “Financial organizations, investors, markets and regulators increasingly recognize the existential risk to business and our economy posed by the climate crisis. A senior level climate advisor to Treasury Secretary Yellen is critical to taking the necessary and urgent action in the financial arena to mitigate the crisis, and, as President Biden has noted, that will help create new economic opportunities and new jobs through the innovation needed to combat climate change.”

Lisa Rice, President and CEO, National Fair Housing Alliance: “Because of our nation’s history of discrimination and segregation, people and communities of color bear much of the burden of climate change, and are often most vulnerable to its impacts – whether those are rising sea levels, increased risk of flooding, hurricanes, extreme heat, wildfires or the kind of severe cold that has just caused devastation in Texas. It is critical for the Treasury Department to take immediate steps to ensure that our financial system is not supporting industries that harm our climate. In doing so, it must keep the needs of vulnerable communities front and center. We urge Secretary Yellen to act immediately to create the promised ‘climate hub’ within Treasury and appoint a very senior level person who brings a focus on racial equity to lead that hub.”

Rev. Susan Hendershot, President, Interfaith Power & Light: “People of faith and conscience view the climate crisis as one of the defining moral issues of our time. The U.S. must provide bold and socially just leadership to protect our communities from the impacts of climate change, including the threats to our economy, and we call on you to create a Treasury climate hub as soon as possible in order to provide financial oversight and regulation of climate risk. The U.S. has a moral opportunity to ensure a better world for our children and all who have been made vulnerable by the climate crisis.”

John Kostyack, Executive Director, National Whistleblower Center: “A climate czar at Treasury will be critical for developing a much overdue system in our federal government for mandatory disclosure of climate risks by financial institutions and others. This will require a senior official who is prepared to tackle the risks to our financial system posed by the ticking time bomb of high carbon business models. It will require coordinating the activities of numerous federal agencies and harmonizing U.S. efforts with similar efforts outside the U.S.”

Alec Connon, coalition co-coordinator, Stop the Money Pipeline: “The climate crisis is one of the most urgent, severe, and complex problems facing our country, and the Treasury Department has an outsized influence over whether or not we will be able to respond to this crisis with the thoroughness and urgency required. It is just common sense that the Treasury would create a robust team that is dedicated to use all of the Department’s levers to work on the climate crisis.”