That’s how close the Inflation Reduction Act would get US to its climate goals
Fires, heat waves, floods – the reality of climate change is at the center of millions of Americans. But beneath the bleak climate-related disasters, some hopeful news rang out last week with Democrats’ surprising announcement of a bill intended to help the country meet its goals of cutting greenhouse gas emissions enough to help the planet face its worst projections. of the greenhouse effect.
To do that, the world must ensure that the global temperature does not rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius or about 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit from the 2005 average. And the US must limit its emissions by the end of the decade by about half.
How close would the far-reaching provisions in the $485 Billion Inflation Reduction Act bring the US to its goal?
“Within screaming distance,” said Anand Gopal, executive director of strategy and policy at Energy Innovation, a climate policy research firm. “It’s about two-thirds of the way there.”
Here’s a closer look:
Climate law brings the US closer
The United States’ target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change is a 50% to 52% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030.
If the Democrats bill passes, it would reduce emissions by between 31% and 44% from 2005 levels, according to various estimates. The estimates depend largely on the increase in U.S. emissions over the next eight years. , which in turn depend on future fossil fuel prices, economic growth and technology costs.
It would reduce cumulative greenhouse gas emissions in the US by about 6.3 billion tons by 2032, according to an analysis by Princeton University’s Zero-carbon Energy Systems Research and Optimization Laboratory.
“While more action at other levels of government will be needed to cut emissions 50-52% below 2005 levels, the Senate package represents an important and historic step forward,” wrote the Rhodium Group, an environmental think tank. and energy, in his analysis.
Renewable energy is already making progress
Even if the US does not change its current greenhouse gas emissions, models predict that emissions will fall 24% below 2005 levels within the next eight years.
This is partly due to the already planned retirement of coal-fired power plants, the rapid fall in the price of wind and solar energy and the increasing adoption of electric vehicles by American drivers.
According to the Department of Energy, the average price of U.S. solar contracts fell by 15% per year between 2009 and 2021. The $33 cost to produce a megawatt hour of wind power in 2020 was less than half the cost of $67 to produce one in 2005, according to DOE.
Is the other 10% possible?
It would require President Joe Biden and states to use executive measures and stricter regulations. “But it’s doable now,” said Gopal.
There is also a flywheel effect, where small gains build on each other over time to create self-sustaining momentum. Just as government investment in oil and gas enabled the fossil fuel boom of the 20th century, and investment in wind and solar energy enabled the rapid fall in prices over the past two decades, the millions for investment and research in climate law could launch the US into a new, cleaner and richer era.
According to Energy Innovation’s analysis, it could create at least 1.5 million new jobs in manufacturing, construction and service industries by 2030 and increase gross national product by 0.84 to 0.88%.
“The innovation, investment, jobs and growth it unlocks could allow us to act faster than we would otherwise predict,” said Manish Bapna, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit dedicated to for the environment.
What about the oil and gas leases?
A provision in the IRA requires three canceled oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and the Cook Inlet in Alaska to be reinstated. In addition, permits for solar and wind projects on federal land and water would only be allowed if rental sales for oil and gas drilling are also held.
While this compromise softened the deal for oil and gas-producing states — while angering many environmentalists — it still wouldn’t significantly impact the positive climate impacts of the law, according to Energy Innovation’s analysis.
For every additional tonne of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the oil and gas leases, at least 24 tonnes would be avoided under the other provisions of the law.
Does it matter if only the US acts?
Part of the pressure to get the United States to meet its climate action goals is that many countries have been dragging their feet, waiting to see what the US does. Their idea was that if the US – historically the largest emitter of greenhouse gases – does not intervene, there is no point in doing so.
“If this continues, it will revitalize the energy around global climate action,” Bapna said. “It allows the US to go to China, to the European Union, and say, ‘We are doing our part, we care that you do yours,'” he said.
Why is this so important?
Last month, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said the world is on course for “collective suicide” if it doesn’t deal with climate change and cut emissions now so that global temperatures don’t rise above scientists’ standards. .
“The battle to keep the 1.5 degree Celsius target alive will be won or lost this decade,” he said.
The current path of carbon dioxide emissions could raise global temperatures by as much as 4.4°C by the end of the century, the UN notes: “The more the world warms, the greater the changes in the climate system become. This includes more frequent and intense hot extremes, marine heat waves, heavy precipitation, agricultural and ecological droughts in some regions, the proportion of intense tropical cyclones, and reductions in Arctic sea ice, snow cover and permafrost.”
Assessment suggests current global efforts are insufficient to limit warming to 1.5°C
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