Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Florida Future Fund Would Build Resilient Infrastructure and Communities for a Changing Climate
Press Release

RELEASE: Florida Future Fund Would Build Resilient Infrastructure and Communities for a Changing Climate

Washington, D.C. — With cities and communities on the front lines of rising seas, powerful hurricanes, and more intense downpours and heat waves, it is vital that Floridians prepare to withstand new threats in the 21st century. To tackle these problems, a new report from the Center for American Progress and the CLEO Institute suggests the creation of a “Florida Future Fund” to support infrastructure upgrades and flood protections that are necessary to make communities more resilient to climate change threats. The fund would combine private and public funding in order to build innovative transportation and energy infrastructure, flood protections, and other neighborhood improvements.

The Florida Future Fund would provide low-interest or interest-free loans and loan guarantees to projects, including investments in parks, the urban tree canopy, clean energy, and smart grids. It would also support energy efficiency upgrades, expand local and regional transportation access, upgrade public transportation systems, and more. Successful implementation of such a fund in Florida could provide a blueprint to other states searching for ways to build resilience to climate change.

“Many Florida residents are unable to financially weather lost wages when floods block their path to work, or to pay for home repairs when stronger storms damage their homes,” said Cathleen Kelly, senior fellow for Energy and Environment at the Center for American Progress and a co-author of the report. “Even today, in low-income areas and communities of color, investment gaps in transportation services, energy efficiency improvements, and the tree canopy create steep barriers to economic opportunity and livable neighborhoods. By creating a fund to support more future-ready infrastructure, state leaders can build a Florida with good jobs, lower energy bills, and a higher quality of life—even in the face of a changing climate”

“Climate change is already taking a toll on Florida’s economy, transportation, and energy infrastructure,” said Yoca Arditi-Rocha, co-executive director of the CLEO Institute and a co-author of the report. “In the absence of federal leadership, the Florida Future Fund would help give our state control over its own destiny.”

Read the report:

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Zach Drennen at [email protected] or 202.741.6372.

State political and environmental leaders agree that the creation of a Florida Future Fund is the best way to weather a changing climate while boosting economic growth and opportunity. For a full list of supportive quotes, see below:

“Floridians deserve investment in a stronger, safer state that can weather the storms and rising seas fueled by a changing climate. The Florida Future Fund is a pragmatic solution that will help us build a state with cleaner water, healthier air, and a more prosperous economy.”

— Sen. José Javier Rodríguez
District 37, Florida Senate

“A Florida Future Fund is a great first step toward the goal of fulfilling Florida’s obligation to protect its residents from the harmful impacts of climate change while boosting its economy. Financing is an often underappreciated—but always indispensable—part of the solution, and the Coalition for Green Capital is pleased to see that recognized in this Florida Future Fund proposal.”

— Alex Kragie
Program Director, Coalition for Green Capital

“As communities across Florida face the accelerating threats of sea level rise along with more dangerous hurricanes, floods, and heat waves, state and local leaders have no time to lose in finding forward-thinking solutions to climate change. Many Floridians simply do not have the economic bandwidth to lose wages when flooded streets prevent them from getting to work, or to shoulder medical and home repair bills in the wake of damaging storms. The CLEO Institute urges state leaders to create a Florida Future Fund to protect Floridians from these threats by expanding investments in future-ready and resilient infrastructure, especially in low-income areas and communities of color that are too often left behind.”

— Caroline Lewis
Founder and Co-Executive Director, The CLEO Institute

“Setting aside funds now to prepare us for our future is critical—especially for the millions of Floridians that experience financial insecurity every day. Severe weather, flooding, and other climate impacts have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations, and our resilience will be directly related to investments we make now to safeguard all of our futures.”

— Gretchen Beesing, LCSW
Chief Executive Officer, Catalyst Miami

“ReThink Energy Florida’s project on sea level rise has opened my eyes to the looming gap between what researchers show will be the impacts on Florida from climate change, and the infrastructure improvements needed to withstand these impacts. The time is now to address these issues – and the Florida Future Fund is a well-thought out, tested plan for meeting these needs.”

— Kim Ross
Executive Director, Rethink Energy Florida

“Floridians know that the steady increase of sea level rise and intensity of extreme weather events requires robust infrastructure improvements to protect our roads, water, sewer, energy, and other properties from impending disaster. The Florida Future Fund would enable communities that are the most vulnerable and at risk of not being able to afford capital improvements to access low-interest or interest-free loans to reduce disaster risks and maintain livable communities. The Florida Future Fund would also provide critical resources to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy capacity while strengthening energy security, supporting a viable economy, and reducing climate change risks throughout Florida.”

— Cindy Lerner
Former Mayor of Pinecrest, Florida

“By launching a Florida Future Fund, state leaders can invest in the forward-thinking clean energy and transportation infrastructure and flood protections that Floridians need to lower energy bills, reduce traffic congestion and local pollution, and prepare for more powerful hurricanes and sea level rise.”

— Maribel Balbin
Member, The CLEO Institute Expert Advisory Council

“Policymakers and political leaders must get out in front of the challenges that our changing climate holds for us, especially in a state as vulnerable as Florida. It is crucial to have resources to make significant investments in our infrastructure to adapt to the impacts in the pipeline and to simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions dramatically so we do not make the problem worse.”

— Susan Glickman
Florida Director, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy