In times of war, the U.S. government has asked Americans to buy bonds to help fund the fight. Now, Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) wants to give Americans the chance to buy bonds in order to fund the fight against climate change.
"Many of us believe that climate change is a similar challenge and an expensive one," said Durbin in an interview with Yahoo Finance.
Durbin and Rep. Ted Deutch (D., Fla.) have proposed a bill that would authorize the U.S. Treasury to offer $200 million in state and local tax-exempt "climate bonds" annually, with the option to increase the issuance to $1 billion if the demand exists.
Money from the bond sales would go toward a Climate Change Resiliency Fund, which would give grants to federal, state, and local governments, non-profits and other organizations to fund projects to fight climate change. A bipartisan commission would create program requirements and select projects to be funded trough the Climate Change Resilience Fund, giving priority to low-income communities and communities of color.
'The beginning of a commitment'
"It is the beginning of a commitment. I hope that it grows in intensity and participation over the years. I think Americans will begin to see in their own communities, the need for money to be spent for flood control, for example, to save and protect buildings," said Durbin. "As they see the money being spent for that purpose and understand that these climate change bonds are going to make a difference in their communities, they may be more willing to participate themselves."
In World War II, the government used posters, appealing to Americans' patriotism and urging them to do their part by buying War Bonds. Durbin's bill would also provide $10 million each year to promote buying bonds through social media and other modern advertising methods.
"Let's get into the world where Americans live and let them know that this is a very important patriotic investment in the country," said Durbin.
President Joe Biden is set to unveil the first part of a $3 trillion plan to boost the economy in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, and Democrats have urged the president to make climate change a key focus of the proposal.
"We cannot separate climate change from daily life in America. It's going to affect every one of us. We certainly have seen it in extreme weather," said Durbin. "It is integrated into every aspect of our economy and we should address it as such."
Jessica Smith is chief political correspondent for Yahoo Finance, based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaASmith8.