A crucial climate bill has been signed by President Biden.
Biden’s Climate bill, dubbed the ‘Inflation Reduction Act’, has overcome senate in-fighting, and is now signed into law.
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As always, we are hopeful about what action this could lead to. Our head of policy, Dr. Hannah Peck, has pulled out some highlights, and lowlights, from the bill.
👍 The first ever major environmental law in the US that focuses specifically on climate change
👍 $369 billion (over 10 years) to be spent on energy and climate crisis action, $60 billion of which is earmarked for frontline communities dealing with pollution – paid for by raising taxes on big corporations.
👍 The bill has the potential to reduce cumulative greenhouse gas emissions by about 6.3 billion metric tons over the next decade (Princeton University). Compared to 2005 levels (their benchmark, not ours), this could mean a 44% reduction in greenhouse emissions.
👍 The law would penalise fossil fuel companies for excess methane emissions from drilling oil and gas (methane is responsible for 30% of global warming).
👍 The bill’s clean energy provisions may also save American households up to $220 a year over the next decade as it drives down electricity costs.
👍 As a result of the bill, nine million jobs could be created.
👍 It includes tax incentives for nuclear power, electric vehicles and energy efficient fuel-based economies helping to make the transition to clean energy. This includes funding for rural communities and communities using fossil fuels (hold up though, see Cons point 2).
👎 The confusing name. The Inflation Reduction Act is actually a climate and health bill. It was penned the Inflation Reduction Act in an attempt to gain more support for the bill at a time when people care most about high inflation and reducing living costs.
👎 To gain the support of the Senate’s 50 democrats (including Joe Manchin), concessions had to be made, adding in requirements for auctions of federal land and water for oil and gas extraction – a big thumbs down.
👎 These concessions in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic are extraction areas that had previously managed to be stopped in court by activists fighting to stop fossil fuel extractions.
👎 In addition, wind and solar developments can only go ahead in these areas after the sale of the oil and gas (seems unbelievable to put oil and gas extraction as a priority ahead of new green energy sources).
👎 These fossil fuel leases will be in areas that are populated by predominantly black and indigenous people. Injustice fuelled by the fossil fuel industry continues despite the act providing funding to marginalised rural communities that live on the front line of fossil fuel extraction. Counterintuitive and hypocritical to say the least.The bill includes investment into carbon capture technology research and carbon trading. Who will see the biggest benefits? Fossil fuel industries, who will continue extracting oil and gas, with the promise of unproven carbon capture technologies.
👎 The climate bill would be the first climate law to be enacted in the US and a significant step in the right direction. However this commitment falls short of bringing US emissions down to levels required in the Paris agreement, to keep temperatures below 1.5’C above pre-industrial levels by 2030.
There you have it. The good, bad and downright ugly.
This law isn’t perfect. What this law does create is a basis for further change. A foundation to improve emissions of the world’s biggest polluters. This is a step in the right direction, but we can’t rest. Global governments to step up and act – let’s continue to apply the pressure.
For more information check out these roundups:
📺 Vlogbrothers: The Biggest Climate Bill of Your Life – But What does it DO!?
🎧 The New Yorker: Politics and More Podcast: Is the Historic Climate Bill Enough to Save the Planet?
📚 Columbia Climate School: State of the Planet: What the Inflation Reduction Act Does — and Doesn’t Do — for Climate
🌎 Indigenous Environmental Network: The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is NOT a climate bill