Opinion: The Cut Inflation Act is a huge victory in this existential fight
Consider the story here. For nearly all of the 30-year history of international climate negotiations, the United States has been more of a problem for the rest of the world than the leader we should have been.
Then, from the start of 2021, it looked like we might live up to the Paris Agreement after all… so no. The past year and a half has been a painful rollercoaster for those of us who care about the future of human beings and other species on planet Earth, and accept the global scientific consensus on how change climate threatens us.
When Democrats narrowly took the presidency and both houses of Congress in 2021, there was a period of hope that the ‘Build Back Better’ bill might pass, representing a major triumph for the climate movement and serving many other social justice goals. . But after a long period of impenetrable dithering, Manchin has pulled the rug out from under BBB, and seemingly any hope for meaningful climate legislation.
It’s the real thing.
There has never – ever been – such substantial climate legislation passed in the United States. Not only do these emission reductions really matter in themselves, but they show that it is politically possible – that enough people care about the climate problem that it can be solved by our political system. And they allow us to look other nations in the eye as we ask them to do their part too.
On policy, the IRA does its job of tackling climate change primarily through investment, rather than regulation or taxes. It gives people and businesses money – some directly and some through tax breaks – to spend on electric cars, heat pumps, wind and solar power generation and many more. emission reduction measures.
It will stimulate growth and good jobs in the private sector. They will further reduce emissions, as technologies improve faster than they otherwise would. Perhaps the emerging industries will even gain political power comparable to that of the fossil fuel industry, creating a countervailing force. (We can dream.)
The focus was on Manchin, for obvious reasons, but it must be said: every Republican who voted against the IRA – that is, all of them – should be deeply ashamed of themselves.
No, the real change is that the Democratic Party, which for many years has been unwilling or unable to do much about climate change, has finally put it at the top of its agenda and mustered the will to do pass historic legislation come hell or high water.
This cannot be taken for granted for a microsecond. In my view, the youth climate movement – along with its older allies – should get the lion’s share for increasing the pressure and bringing the issue to the forefront of people’s minds. (And, perhaps, let’s acknowledge the contributions of my colleagues, the hard-working scientists who have spent decades researching, writing papers, and compiling them into IPCC reports and national climate assessments for state the ever darker facts.)
But in a time when the twin, slow-moving disasters of American politics and the global climate crisis make it so painful for many of us to read the news every day, it’s important to take a moment and celebrate when something good happens. It is so something. It really is. Bravo, President Biden and his team – even Joe Manchin, who hesitated for many months to support such a bill – and everyone who pushed it to this point