Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, pulled a fast one yesterday. After months of opposing major climate legislation, citing inflation risks, he suddenly changed his tune. Last night, climate legislation was back on the table, and the odds of it passing had gone up considerably.
While not as large, in terms of dollars, as President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 still stands as one of the most significant pieces of climate legislation proposed in the U.S. It would put $369 billion toward clean energy, electric vehicles and a range of other climate programs.
Senate Democrats say that the bill could cut emissions by 40% (most likely below 2005 levels, a benchmark the Biden administration has used in the past). That’s not enough to keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the globally agreed upon level that would limit most catastrophic outcomes, but it’s close. According to Climate Action Tracker, the bill would bring the U.S. from “insufficient” to “almost sufficient,” increasing the chances that the world can keep global average temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius.
The bill, at 725 pages, goes into great detail outlining how the hundreds of billions of dollars should be spent. I’ve skimmed through the entire text, reading the most relevant pages and picking out the key points. If the bill is signed into law, here’s what will be driving climate policy in the U.S. for the foreseeable future.