Realigning American Policy & Funding for Climate Change

Rep. Pramila Jayapal introduces new climate bill

A new bill introduced by Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal this week aims to balance the inequalities in damage caused by climate disasters and the necessary aid that comes after. If passed, the legislation would:

  • Establish a grant program for climate resilience jobs for a diverse workforce
  • Provide money for local governments to write resilience plans that directly take the disparate impacts of climate change into account
  • Put federal money behind local efforts

"One of the things we really want to fix is how the resources get distributed: who gets the jobs, how do we make sure that those jobs are well paid, and that it becomes an opportunity to -- wait for it -- build back better in those communities," Jayapal told TIME.

Why This Matters

The inequalities in climate disasters are gaping -- and disasters can make them grow wider. Black Americans lost around $20,000 when their communities were hit by a disaster, while white Americans gained more than $126,000, according to a 2019 study. Jayapal's bill recognizes this inequality and works to create a policy framework that can balance it. The bill claims the grant program could create one million jobs in areas like retrofitting buildings, a double benefit for both resilience and employment.

Climate-Focused Finance Regulation

Beyond Congress, the nation's top financial regulators could also be a part of preparing the government for climate changes to come. Soon, the heads of the Fed, FDIC, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency may be approaching financial decision-making with an eye toward climate impacts. Sarah Bloom Raskin, President Biden's nominee for the top job at the Fed, has called fossil fuels "a terrible investment." Martin J. Gruenberg, who is set to take the reins at the FDIC, has called the US out for being "behind the curve" with "a lot of ground to make up" on global climate issues, including financial impacts.

"I expect it to be a pretty big shift," said David Arkush, managing director of the climate program at Public Citizen, told Politico. "You're going to have all the major bank regulators moving forward."

CNBC: Rep. Pramila Jayapal on where Democrats' Build Back Better bill stands, January 12, 2022.

CNBC: Fed Chairman Jerome Powell testifies before Congress during confirmation hearing, January 11, 2022.