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House Passes Landmark Climate Bill: A Down Payment on a Safe Climate Future

Earth from space, credit: NOAA.

Update to the original blog post: On August 16th, 2022 President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law.

Today, the House voted to pass the Inflation Reduction Act which represents an important milestone to seriously address the climate change crisis. President Biden is expected to sign this legislation shortly. With provisions that reduce national greenhouse gas emissions by over 40% by 2030 this legislation creates an opportunity for the U.S. to not only take significant action to fight climate change at home, but also to meet its global climate commitments under the Paris Agreement and return to the global stage as a leader in the fight to address climate change worldwide.

Having worked closely with many leaders in the U.S. Congress in the unsuccessful bid to pass the American Clean Energy and Security Act in 2009 (better known as the Waxman-Markey Bill) I am grateful for this long overdue milestone legislation which will allocate a major investment of over $370 billion for climate change and clean energy programs.

“This is by far the biggest step the U.S. has ever taken to combat climate change, but I know that this is by no means a ‘mission accomplished’ moment. There are still a lot of priorities that were left on the cutting room floor that I will keep advocating for, and we must get off the fossil fuel roller coaster that has been driving inflation and killing our planet once and for all,” says Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael).

The importance of this bill to get us back on track and take on the growing and multifaceted threats from climate change cannot be overstated. We continue to experience the outcomes of inaction, with extreme weather events becoming more commonplace, such as longer lasting droughts and heatwaves, increasing threats to our coastal communities from more powerful storms, as well as more devastating wildfire seasons. At the same time, as global temperatures continue to rise and new records for hottest summers are set year after year, natural systems continue to degrade—further reducing their ability to provide the important services we rely on for our health and wellbeing. For example, longer droughts and shifts in our rain cycles will impact the ability of groundwater systems to recharge which will threaten water availability for human communities as well as impact critical wildlife habitat.

This legislation has many important facets to fight climate change and includes at its core major incentives for clean energy and clean transportation programs that will signal an important shift away from our reliance on fossil fuels. However, just as importantly, the legislation allocates significant funding for nature-based solutions to strengthen our resilience to the effects of climate change and capture carbon emissions underground, such as supporting shifts to climate-smart agricultural practices, improved wildfire and forest management, and rebuilding degraded coastal areas and wildlife habitats. This legislation also makes long needed investments to support historically underrepresented communities who have disproportionately been affected by climate change address longstanding environmental justice needs. These investments paired with other important federal and state programs represent a unique opportunity for us to get back on track to take the type of bold action needed to meet the urgency of the climate emergency we face.

The Inflation Reduction Act is an important first step that opens the door for greater ambition and creates a pathway for the type of generational impact to fight climate change needed. While we applaud the leadership it took to pass this legislation, the fact is that we cannot resolve the climate crisis without protecting the important natural systems that support human life on earth. These systems, among many other benefits, support our freshwater supplies, protect our critical food systems, and are immensely important for our mental and physical health. Balancing climate ambition with care for our natural world can be done. As a trusted partner with the U.S. agencies that will be implementing the various programs of this legislation, Point Blue is committed to providing the science that will ensure that these investments not only meet the level of climate action needed but that they also support healthy ecosystems and biodiversity for many years to come.