‘An old man turned ninety-eight. He won the lottery and died the next day. Isn’t it ironic?’
Maybe Alanis Morissette should add the current state of inflation to her list of ironies. Because, while inflation sits at a multi-decade high, it could be the ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ that saves us all. The Act is the most aggressive action on tackling the climate crisis in American history.
First things first, it’s not what was originally proposed. Not even close. President Biden tried to get a $3.5 trillion spending plan through Congress last year but there was no way that the Republican Party would approve a $3.5 trillion package that they didn’t write. But we’ll take what we can get – more accurately $700 billion, $369 billion of which will be pumped into climate action in the form of tax subsidies and other initiatives.
So, it may not be ambitious enough, yet, but it’s a great start, because it will spur further investment from the private sector now that they are seeing federal money going in. It’ll also invigorate the sector and create jobs. In a recent speech, Biden said, “Folks, when I think about climate change — and I’ve been saying this for three years — I think jobs. Climate change, I think jobs.” And that’s bound to lift the spirits of American workers. We still need On-The-Job training but that’s another topic
Speaking of ‘an old man’ – well, not that old, but certainly old-fashioned in his thinking – Florida’s Republican Senator Marco Rubio has argued that climate action is not among “the things working people in this country care about” because it doesn’t keep criminals in jail. That’s easy for him to say; Republicans will always focus on keeping people incarcerated because it makes them a ton of money. And Rubio’s an ass. Any American with a conscience that is looking to the future cares about climate action.
Don’t believe me? In my last blog I talked about ‘the overall-wearing, star spangled banner-toting American who insists on having a V8 engine in their wagon’. And I’m one of them. But sales of electric vehicles (EVs) are soaring. Tesla’s boasting about selling 1 million cars in a year, while General Motors, Volkswagen and Ford are now entering the race with their takes on the classics. Incidentally, how cool is the ID Buzz, VW’s electric minivan? And the new electric Hummer. Oof!
So, we’re coming round to the idea of dropping our gas-guzzling pickups. And $7,500 in tax credits to buy an electric car whacks a significant chunk off the – until now – inaccessible cost of most EVs. It all helps. People need to know more about how this will work – there are provisions about having to buy from manufacturers who have displaced Chinese batteries – but it’s a step in the right direction.
While we’re on EVs, the question on everyone’s lips is still how we’re going to charge them all! Energy storage is another area where money needs to go. And urgently. We are producing renewable energy at record paces and need places to store it for peak demand times.
And what of the risks? Who remembers Solyndra? The once-hailed solar panel startup that used ‘inaccurate and misleading, misrepresented known facts, and, in some instances, omitted information that was highly relevant to key decisions’ in order to secure a $535 million loan from the Government’s Department of Energy. $535 million of tax-payers’ money, which was then lost when the company filed for bankruptcy. Will this be another damp-squib? Well, yes, it’s a risk. But nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Can we produce and store enough energy, can supply chains cope with delivering new vehicles, is this investment going to help the US meet national carbon targets? All remains to be seen but maybe, just maybe, the Inflation Reduction Act has started us out on the road to salvation.