Today marks the first anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the Biden administration’s landmark climate and clean energy law. The legislation committed almost $400 billion to mitigating climate change, earmarking $60 billion specifically for environmental justice concerns. No one can say yet definitively if the IRA will do enough to head off the worst impacts of global warming. Still, initial studies have looked into what the IRA has accomplished so far. The clean energy plan is working. Even though President Biden wishes he had named it something catchier, it turns out that the IRA has already done a fair amount to help build a clean energy future.
- New projects
The IRA has already resulted in new manufacturing in wind, solar, batteries, electric vehicles, and other clean energy projects across the country.
- New jobs
New IRA-related projects also mean an increase in new clean energy jobs with better wages and even increased union benefits in various sectors. Construction workers, mechanics, and electricians are some of the beneficiaries of these new jobs. A study on the IRA’s accomplishments so far done by Climate Power, an independent strategic communications and paid media operation, says the IRA has already resulted in more than 170,600 new jobs in 44 states in total.
- Reduced carbon emissions
Nine research teams, including one at Princeton, modeled the effect of the IRA on US carbon emissions. They concluded the IRA will “dramatically cut US carbon emissions, with economy-wide emissions reductions between 43 and 48% below 2005 levels by 2035.” Before the IRA, the US was cutting carbon emissions by about 2% per year. With the IRA, the report estimates it will grow to 4% annually. That said, the report states the reductions are not enough to reach 50% below peak levels by 2030, as the US has pledged.
- Bipartisan bridges
Climate Power’s study notes that a majority of new clean energy projects are located in congressional districts represented by Republican members of the House of Representatives: “Since the passage of the IRA, 96,216 new jobs and over $224.8 billion in investments have been announced across 152 clean energy projects in 92 Republican-held districts.”
These are just some of the IRA’s accomplishments in year one. Overall, the clean energy plan is popular because it’s easy for people to see the benefits, including that it lowers household energy prices up to $370 annually.
There are a number of ways to track IRA investments, including the Inflation Reduction Act Tracker, a joint project of Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and the Environmental Defense Fund.
Elizabeth Hauptman, a Moms field organizer in Michigan, shared what the IRA means to her and her family at an anniversary press conference last week. Many people were on hand to celebrate the IRA’s economic, health, climate, and jobs benefits, including Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Hauptman’s son suffers from asthma and she called the IRA the “single biggest investment in climate, protecting families in Michigan by slashing climate pollution in the US.”
We’ll be following to see what year two of the IRA brings.