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Noah Smith

Debt Is No Reason to Fear Trillions in Green Spending

The investment is modest compared with other major infrastructure projects in U.S. history, and these projects will give back more than they cost.

It’s not just greener. It’s going to be cheaper.

It’s not just greener. It’s going to be cheaper.

Photographer: Bloomberg

President Joe Biden and other leaders are proposing large amounts of new government investment in order to decarbonize the U.S. economy. These plans will inevitably encounter deficit scolds who will balk at the amount of new debt required. But taking on debt to finance this particular kind of investment isn't dangerous.

John Kerry, the new Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, recently declared the transition away from fossil fuels will involve “so much economic investment made by people up and down the economic food chain that no future president can reverse it.” Biden’s climate plan calls for $1.7 trillion in federal investment over the next 10 years, or $170 billion a year.