How the Community Reinvestment Act may reward banks for climate change-minded investments

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Jesse M. Keenan (Photo: Harvard University)

CAMBRIDGE, MA–Harvard Graduate School of Design professor Jesse M. Keenan, alongside co-author Elizabeth Mattiuzzi, has released a new report illustrating how banks could seek Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) credit to make climate-change-minded resilience and adaptation investments in low-to-moderate income communities across the country, signaling a significant move at the federal level toward approaches and perspectives on climate change.

Elizabeth Mattiuzzi

Keenan and Mattiuzzi issued the report via the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, where Mattiuzzi is Senior Researcher in Community Development, and their findings have since been picked up by the Wall Street Journal, among others.

“Climate change is already causing disruption to regional economic activity,” write Keenan and Mattiuzzi in the report’s introduction. “Low-to-moderate income populations are highly vulnerable to these impacts, in part, because they often have fewer resources to adapt. The stability and prosperity of local economies in the face of climate change depends on how well the public, private, and civic sectors can come together to respond to the shocks and stresses of climate change.”

Elsewhere, the authors continue, “Community development practitioners, investors and policymakers will find this report useful for sparking new ideas about how to develop partnerships and funding streams for CRA-eligible activities—in both eligible communities and areas within a federal disaster declaration— that will reduce the vulnerability and increase the adaptive capacity of communities to the impacts of climate change.”

Keenan tapped a trio of Harvard GSD students for research and mapping work. Firas Suqi and Samuel Adkisson conducted geospatial data analysis, while Kenner Carmody conducted graphic-design work to capture and illustrate the report’s research and conclusions.

Read the full report via the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.