Scientists welcomed the passage of US President Joe Biden’s “historic” climate bill, while calling on other major emitters – namely the European Union – to follow suit and implement ambitious plans to reduce emissions.
The bill, which would lead to an unprecedented $370 billion investment to cut United States emissions by 40 percent by 2030, should provide a launch pad for green investment and a transition toward renewable energy, the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter. should start.
It passed the Senate on Sunday night after months of difficult negotiations and only after tackling several tax and energy provisions on Biden’s original proposal.
Michael Pahle of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said the bill was particularly relevant to EU lawmakers, who said they were on the verge of adopting “the world’s most ambitious climate policy” as “fit for 55”. But were. Plan.
“EU policy can only succeed – both economically and politically – when major emitters and trade partners take similar action,” Pahl said.
“Especially in the face of a changing geopolitical landscape, US-EU cooperation is critical and the bill is an important enabling factor.”
The EU initiative – which envisages a 55 percent emissions drop by 2030 – has no set budget yet.
But a recent assessment found that meeting climate and energy targets would require member states to spend 350 billion euros ($357 billion) more each year than between 2011-2020.
Simon Lewis, professor of global change science at University College London, said the US bill shows how lawmakers can advance climate legislation while responding to voters’ short-term concern over fuel price inflation.
“It’s really important that the world’s largest economy is investing in climate and doing it as part of a package to generate jobs and a new, clean, green economy,” Lewis said.
“Part of that is a package dealing with inflation. I think it shows the world how to pass climate policy, to link it to the things that really matter to the common people, to make sure it’s to make people’s lives better. Part of a comprehensive package. ,
The independent Rhodium Group think-tank said the “historic and significant” bill – officially the Inflation Reduction Act – would reduce US emissions by at least 31 percent by 2040 compared to 2005 levels.
However, with favorable macroeconomic conditions – including rising fossil fuel prices and cheap renewables – a 44 percent drop in emissions was possible.
“The cost of living here is partly because we didn’t run out of fossil fuels quickly enough,” Lewis said. “This bill means the transition away from fossil fuels is about to accelerate.”
affected by extreme weather
Eric Beinhawker, director of the Institute of New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School, said the US bill would lead to a “massive increase” in clean technology and reduce the cost of renewable energy even further.
“This is especially important when the world is suffering not only from the climate impacts of fossil fuels but also from their skyrocketing costs,” he said.
The law provides millions to help forests and billions in tax credits to help some of the country’s worst-polluting industries accelerate their transition to green technology.
It almost didn’t happen, however, as the bill was delayed for months after Democrat Joe Manchin blocked Biden’s more expensive Build Back Better Infrastructure plan.
The first said the US’s failure to agree on an ambitious emissions-cutting plan would be “a major shortcoming on the viability of the Paris Agreement”.
The 2015 agreement calls on nations to work to limit global temperature rise to 2 °C (3.6 °F) “well below” pre-industrial levels and a safe 1.5C (2.7F) heating cap. envisions.
With more than 1.1C warming so far, Earth is already being hit by extreme weather such as drought and storms caused by rising temperatures.
just the beginning
Although acknowledging that the bill represents progress, scientists were quick to emphasize that it is far from perfect.
Michael Mann, director of the Penn State Center for Science, Sustainability and Media, said the bill’s commitment to building the new gas pipeline was “a step back.”
“It is difficult to reconcile the promise of decarbonizing our economy with a commitment to new fossil fuel infrastructure,” he said.
Radhika Khosla, of the Smith School at the University of Oxford, said that only taking action at a global level can reduce the emissions needed to prevent the worst effects of global heating.
“We are all feeling the effects of climate change,” she said. “This summer alone some parts of the world as China, Britain and Tunisia all saw record-breaking, deadly heatwaves. Sustainable change will also require ambitious action on the part of all of us.”