Nevena Pilipovic-Wengler

MUP

Financing the Climate Crisis: What the Technical and Social Realms of a 2013 Massachusetts Green Bond Can Teach Us About the Governance of the Climate Crisis

Advised by Abby Spinak

This thesis interrogates the material consequences of state and municipal applications of “green bonds” (bonds used to fund environmental projects) in order to analyze how this financial tool dismantles, mitigates, and/or contributes to the global climate crisis. While city governments increasingly do important work in strategizing how to fight the crisis, how they will fund such strategies remains unclear (Bulkeley 2010). Simultaneously, we must consider how racialized, colonial, and extractive economies created the climate crisis’s existence (Hardy, Milligan, and Heynen 2017; Isla 2015; Klein 2014). Green bonds embody the tension between these two problems. They offer promising potential to provide much needed funding, yet they are a function of a racialized and extractive debt market (Bigger and Millington 2019; Ponder and Omstedt 2019). This article investigates the novel green bond program of the first US state green bond issued by Massachusetts in 2013. An analysis of the public, private, and residential actors at play in the architecture of this bond will illuminate points of shared and divergent efficacies. Ultimately, in order to preserve the promise of funding urban governance toward the climate crisis, we need to understand how green bonds and other financial tools materialize socioeconomically and ecologically. I hope this paper contributes to this pressing question: How can city and state governments finance the fight against the climate crisis without further fueling it?

Nevena Pilipovic-Wengler, MUP. A red-and-black hand-drawn infographic.
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