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A new bank specializes in climate-friendly financing » Yale Climate Connections

What’s in a name? Well, for a new community bank in Saint Petersburg, Florida, a lot.

“We came up with the name ‘Climate First’ because it’s crystal clear what we’re all about,” says founder and CEO Ken LaRoe. “We intend to do everything we can to draw down atmospheric CO2.”

Climate First Bank is focused on financing projects that will help reduce climate change.

It specializes in loans for individuals and businesses doing solar installations, energy-efficiency retrofits, and green building projects.

And LaRoe says the bank refuses to fund or invest in the types of projects that are driving global warming.

“We won’t do extractive industries of any kind,” he says. “We won’t do dirty energy. … We won’t do slash and burn developments.”

As the world tackles global warming, more climate-friendly projects will need financing. And LaRoe says there’s money to be made in the process.

“If I couldn’t produce a business plan that showed us being very profitable, … we wouldn’t have gotten the charter,” he says. “I call myself a rabid environmentalist. But I’m a rabid capitalist also. … I really believe in the maxim, ‘You do well by doing good.’”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media

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