Floods, wildfires and drought across the United States make it impossible to ignore the imminent danger of climate change. Late last month, after years of red-flag warnings, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) waved a victory flag, pushing through the Inflation Reduction Act, which was signed into by President Biden on August 16th.
The pair led the way in forging a $369 billion deal to revolutionize energy production in the United States. The agreement puts the country on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its 2005 levels by 40 percent by 2030, according to reports from Rhodium Group, a research firm.
This brings the United States just shy/within reach of its commitment under the Paris Climate Accords to slash emissions by half in that time and, without it Rhodium said the U.S. would only be able to lower emissions by up to 35 percent by the decade’s end.
More than $60 billion was allotted to promote clean manufacturing, including tax breaks for companies producing solar panels, batteries and wind turbines; grants and loans for automotive companies that produce electric vehicles; $3 billion in tax credits for private purchase of EVs and for the U.S. Postal Service to transition to zero-emissions vehicles; $2 billion to fund energy research; and more than $20 billion to help the Department of Agriculture support farmers addressing climate change.
The law comes in the nick of time. Waiting further to act would make it nearly impossible to keep global warming to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, which global leaders have pledged. Already, the worldwide climate temperature has risen 1.98 degrees Fahrenheit beyond pre-industrial levels because of the burning of fossil fuels.
According to scientists, warming even a fraction of a degree more will increase the severity of extreme weather patterns such as floods, fires, heat waves and hurricanes.
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) told The Washington Post that the package represented a rare win on a seemingly impenetrable issue.
“There is certainly more to do and say, but tonight I will sleep a little easier knowing we have fought successfully for the future our kids deserve,” Heinrich said.