Capturing Green Value? Clean Energy’s Speculative Fiscal Geographies

Authors: Sarah Knuth*, Department of Geography, Durham University
Topics: Economic Geography, Energy, Population Geography
Keywords: green finance, clean energy, financialization, fiscal geographies, value
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 34
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The demands of climate change and its ‘financing gap’ have generated a surge of proposals for a global revolution in green finance. As critical geographers begin to take on the emerging geographies of climate finance, from insurance and adaptation to more mitigation-targeted interventions, this wave demands ongoing investigation. A crucial front in today’s prospective green-financial revolution is the elaboration of value-capture techniques for new purposes and geographies. Promoters of new fiscal innovation, urban-regional and transnational, are busily working to adapt clean energy schemes such as Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), developed around the particularly fragmented fiscal geographies (Tapp and Kay 2019) and deep municipal bond market of the United States, to urban contexts with seemingly less hospitable political economic and regulatory terrain. Meanwhile, other essential-yet-problematic clean energy financing tools like project finance have a clear signature in early US value-capture innovations. These travels and prospective translations demand more critical investigation, through the lens of global market formation as much as policy transfer and mobilities. I argue in this paper that a closer look at the origination geographies of ‘green’ value capture, in the history of US clean energy financing and in the contextual factors that impelled it – from populist tax revolt in the neoliberal era to longer histories of debt circumvention within US federalism – usefully illuminate some of its key attributes: namely, why it is in theory able to be exported so widely beyond its fiscal geographic origins, and some of the perhaps essential perils of doing so.

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