At the end of the 12th of August 2022, the U.S Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, signed by president Joseph R. Biden Jr on the following Tuesday. The bill is particularly consequential for the United States since it goes a long way toward improving health and quality of life throughout the country. The bill will be America’s first prominent climate law and is a vital step in the fight against global warming and the growing environmental crisis. The Inflation Reduction Act will drastically reduce the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and create a brighter future with clean energy that powers automobiles and other vehicles as well as homes and businesses, new industries and jobs.
But what does the act consist of? The Inflation Reduction Act is a $370 billion climate, tax and health care package, with the following key points. Businesses that build and use new sources of zero-emissions energy, such as wind turbines, solar panels, geothermal plants or developed nuclear reactors, will get tax credits for the following ten years. Additionally, companies will receive millions of dollars in tax credits to seize and bury carbon dioxide from natural gas power plants before the gas flees into the atmosphere and warms up the planet. This is a procedure infrequently used nowadays because of elevated costs. Moreover, the bill will encourage clean energy production and charge penalties for methane emissions that exceed the imposed national limits starting in 2024. The bill includes over $60 billion in aid of low-income communities, families and POC neighbourhoods that are disproportionately encumbered by the climate crisis. Furthermore, the act introduces cash incentives for Americans who buy electric vehicles, along with billions of dollars for automakers, battery factories and suppliers to build factories in the United States rather than in China. Finally, Medicare, the federal health insurance run by the U.S government, will be able to negotiate with drug manufacturers on the cost of some pharmaceutical medications, allowing Americans to save thousands of dollars in medication costs every year.
The United States has always had a complicated history with climate change and its prevention. This is demonstrated by the attitude of former politicians and presidents and is proven by a study conducted by the Pew Research Centre named “public views on climate change and climate scientists.” In fact, the investigation showed that only four-in-ten Americans anticipate the destructive consequences of climate change on wildlife, shorelines, and weather patterns. The majority of Americans seem suspicious of climate scientists. No more than a third of Americans regard climate scientists for their effort and work on climate change. Even fewer say that climate scientists understand the best ways to manage and prevent climate change. The study also made clear that climate change is merely a political issue in the country, as Republicans and Democrats seem to fight each other and gain public approval by using the looming environmental crisis. Conservative Republicans are less inclined to believe in the harmful effects of climate change or to impose solutions to mitigate its consequences. Liberal Democrats, on the other hand, see the climate crisis’ outcomes as disastrous and try to implement policy solutions to prevent disastrous consequences.
The introduction of the Inflation Reduction Act is essential to end, or at least to thwart, political disputes over climate change, and it will guarantee significant investments in the environment and health care and raise taxes on some key groups until 2030. The Inflation Reduction Act is developed to bring drastic declines in dangerous air pollutants that can infiltrate humans’ lungs and even enter our bloodstreams, causing many premature deaths. According to a study led by John Larsen, an associate at the consulting corporation Rhodium Group, the bill will help to cut sulphur dioxide emissions up to 82 percent below 2021 levels by 2030, cleaning America’s air and preventing thousands of deaths.
The environmental reform introduced by the Inflation Reduction Act is a big step forward in saving our planet, but there’s still work to be done. Firstly, the American government needs to follow Europe’s example and invest in hydrogen, which will play a fundamental role in decarbonising sectors where other options might be unusable or too expensive. Hydrogen can substitute fossil-based energies for transport and industrial processes and start new industrial products, such as green fertilisers and steel. Secondly, the United States needs to limit the use of private planes or jets, as they contribute to emitting tons of greenhouse gases per flight. The American government not only needs to impose a limit on the private jets departing and arriving in the country but also on the number of private aircraft that cross their air space. Only by limiting the large quantities of private jets and airplanes it will be possible to drastically reduce greenhouse emissions.
Moreover, it is unfair that the working class should shoulder the burden of daily sacrifices for the environmental crisis while the rich enjoy themselves in their private jets without fretting about climate change. Another way the U.S government can effectively help our planet and decrease CO2 emissions is to impose severe limits on the massive meat industry in the country. The meat industry is responsible for 57% of the greenhouse emission in the country; beef production, which produces 25% of all food-based greenhouse gas emissions, is by far the main culprit, followed by cow’s milk, pork, and chicken. The American government needs to impose some restraints on animal-based food production and offer more sustainable options, such as plant-based alternatives, that might not only help reduce the massive greenhouse emission in the meat industry but also curb widespread animal abuse in the country.
The introduction of the Inflation Reduction Act is a vital step towards improving and containing the climate crisis, besides being America’s first prominent climate law. The bill introduces essential reforms for the country’s environment and healthcare, and it will drastically affect Americans’ lives. The Inflation Reduction Act is a step forward toward helping the planet, but it is still incomplete. There’s still a long way to go and a lot of environmental-friendly reforms to implement, such as stricter control on the meat industry or private jets, but the Inflation Reduction Act represents the first American concrete effort to help the environment.