Analysis | The climate bill won’t stop global warming. But it will clean the air. – The Washington Post

by | Aug 1, 2022 | Climate Change

Listen11 minComment on this storyCommentGift ArticleThe higher temperatures observed today across the world, implicated in everything from extreme heat to drought and worsening wildfires, are the result of many decades of rising greenhouse gas emissions that trap heat and warm the globe. And there are many more emissions to come, as people around the globe keep on living, driving cars, conducting business.All of which explains why the economic and climate deal announced last week by Senate Democrats, which would represent America’s biggest actions ever to curb climate change, can scarcely be expected to have an immediate, measurable impact on the warming planet.Yet, in ways Americans may not yet appreciate, the legislation could have much more direct, soon-felt effects — on what people pay to drive and power their homes, as well as the quality of the air they breathe.AdvertisementThe deal, announced by Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), would spend $369 billion on tax credits and other spending to transition the country away from fossil fuels.By doing so, the Inflation Reduction Act would further lower the costs of renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar, as well as many other less glitzy but important energy-saving appliances and devices around the home. If it spurs other countries to act in concert with the United States, it would be at the cutting edge of a global coordinated effort to cut down on emissions and limit warming.The legislation “is important symbolically and internationally,” said Rob Jackson, an expert on global greenhouse gas emissions at Stanford University. “Its biggest benefits are to provide longer-term certainty for renewables development and to promote sales of lower-cost electric vehicles. It’s critical the U.S. do something.”AdvertisementYet, the bill won’t lead to a much cooler planet, at least not immediately or on its own. The climate problem is massive, which means that even when the United States takes decisive action it can appear relatively small.For instance, new modeling from the Rhodium Group puts the U.S. emissions reductions from the new legislation at about 470 to 580 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2030, compared with where policies will take us without the bill. Princeton University’s energy modeler Jesse Jenkins appears more optimistic and initially puts the emissions reductions at between 800 million and 1 billion tons.That’s a big chunk …

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