Capitalizing On Climate Action

Capitalizing On Climate Action

The biggest piece of US climate legislation in history is moving forward now that there’s a deal between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. Pending a vote in the Senate expected this week, this will put $369 billion in new spending on the table for climate and (largely) clean energy. Most directly, the bill will incentivize dramatic decarbonization in the energy and transportation sectors. It will also go toward creating tax credit incentives for electricity produced by wind farms and installing residential heat pumps and community solar.

Bloomberg: Solar Energy Demand Set to Surge in 2022, July 27, 2022.

CNN: Sen. Manchin explains why he changed his mind on massive bill, July 31, 2022.

In an essay, Bill McKibben, founder of Third Act and, outlines some things to expect:

“[Assuming the bill passes, it] clearly transforms not just the energy landscape but the political landscape,” McKibben writes. “There will be -- there always are -- new battles to fight and new opportunities to exploit. And we’ll have to do it because, of course, we remain way behind in the race to catch up with physics. Not quite as far behind as last week, but plenty far.”

DW: Banks increase funding for fossil fuels despite 'net zero' pledges, February 15, 2022.

WW0: Creating Jobs While Decarbonizing the US Economy, June 28, 2022.

Democracy Now: Bill McKibben | Latest IPCC Climate Report Underscores "Fossil Fuel Is at the Root of Our Problems," April 7, 2022.

Why This Matters

There isn’t any time to spare on climate action. The bill will help the US avert failure of its climate targets, and as put by Schumer and Manchin in a joint statement, “will make a historic down payment on deficit reduction to fight inflation, invest in domestic energy production and manufacturing, and reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40 % by 2030.”

Of course, a great deal of damage to the planet has already been done. Increased concentrations of greenhouse gases have caused global warming, creating more frequent heatwaves that are getting hotter. Extreme weather is already here, and with it comes damages that could cost as much as $178 trillion over the next 50 years, according to a recent Deloitte analysis. To borrow a phrase from UN Secretary-General António Guterres, if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels we’ll “incinerate our only home.”

Grantham Imperial: Dr Friederike Otto speaks to CNN's Connect the World about the extreme heat, 18 July 2022, July 19, 2022.

BBC: Deadly heatwaves '100 times more likely' due to climate change, May 18, 2022.

DW: Time is running out | WMO warns 1.5 degree threshold could be topped by 2026, May 18, 2022.

Popular Support For Climate Action

There’s broad public support for the policies included in the climate bill. A recent Pew poll found that 72% of Americans support power companies being required to use more energy from renewable sources, and 67% are in favor of providing incentives to increase the use of hybrid and electric vehicles. This, coupled with the latest survey from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC), which shows 55% of Americans think people in the US are being hurt by climate change "right now," proves Americans are ready for climate action. This figure is the highest percentage yet polled on the matter and the first to surpass the 50th percentile.

ABC: Deadly heatwave continues to rock US, July 21, 2022.

NBC: Heat Wave Worsens As 75 Million Americans Are Under Alerts, July 22, 2022.

CNBC: Severe drought in Southwest threatens water and energy security, April 27, 2022.

Democracy Now: Bill McKibben | Latest IPCC Climate Report Underscores "Fossil Fuel Is at the Root of Our Problems," April 7, 2022.