US’s biggest climate commitment

The US government will soon spend more than 500 billion USD on clean energy and climate technology, under three recently enacted laws. With climate change at the centre of foreign policy and national security, US President Joe Biden signed into law a large spending bill for climate change and health care.

US’s biggest climate commitment

It is also the largest commitment to reducing the effects of climate change in American history.

The new law, called the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), is claimed by the White House as the largest commitment to reducing the effects of climate change in American history, as well as making changes in fixing drug prices and adding fairness to the tax system.

Under the new law, the US government will spend about 370 billion USD on green energy and climate initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. To fund this plan, the law will close tax loopholes and impose a minimum tax rate of 15% on sales for large corporations.

The amount that the US will spend on climate change efforts is calculated based on the following laws: CHIPS and Science Act, IRAs and Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act. These laws all fund climate-related research, pilot studies, and production support.

It is estimated that the US government will spend 514 billion USD on climate change, of which 362 billion USD comes from the IRA, 98 billion USD from the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act, and 54 billion USD from the CHIPS and Science Act.

The US Congress will have to pass new legislation so that some funding can be disbursed. The CHIPS and Science Act will fund climate-related efforts in materials science, such as the development of new batteries and more efficient solar panels. The RMI analysis also shows that annual federal spending on climate and clean energy over the next five years will be about 15 times higher than in the 1990s and early 2000s, and three times more than in recent years.

Lachlan Carey, the co-author of the RMI report, said the three laws together constitute a “coherent green industry” policy. This means the legislation will focus on strategic industries and a range of tools designed to accelerate production. President Biden's signing into major health and climate spending laws gives Democrats another boost ahead of midterm congressional elections, in which Republicans are suddenly less certain of their predicted crushing victory.

The world is now about 1.2C warmer than in pre-industrial times, making intense heat waves and wildfires more frequent, as recently recorded in the US and Europe. The US is the most affected by extreme weather events, which are increased by climate change.

White House national climate adviser Gina McCarthy said extreme heat affects Americans’ lives more than any other type of weather, especially for the most vulnerable. Many analysts expect that the temperature rise will be limited to less than 3.6C, as governments and businesses are stepping up the use of renewable energy.

The Biden administration’s enactment of climate-related legislation is to fulfil his campaign promise to return the US to the world’s leading role in the fight against climate change. This is also a contribution to the global joint effort to reduce emissions to slow down the rate of global warming.