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A Year After Inflation Reduction Act Passage, Race to Accelerate Clean Energy Is On

There are reasons for both grave concern and optimism in our fight to avoid a climate catastrophe. While each day brings news of the rapidly worsening impacts of climate change, I have hope at the one-year anniversary of the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the most consequential climate law in U.S. history.

The impacts of climate change are becoming increasingly dire. June became the hottest month in recorded history, only to be immediately displaced by July, when UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres declared we have entered the era of “global boiling.” Along with the extreme heat, smoke from wildfires in Canada have forced millions of people in the U.S. to stay indoors and avoid poor air quality, especially those with asthma and respiratory issues.

While these events can be overwhelming, we are now also seeing clear signs that the clean energy economy is rapidly taking off, thanks in large part to the passage of the IRA.

A new report from grantee partner Climate Power shows that, in just one year, the IRA has jumpstarted the transition to the clean energy economy that we need to limit the worst impacts of climate change. New manufacturing in wind, solar, batteries, and electric vehicles (EVs) across the country have created more than 170,600 new clean energy jobs for electricians, mechanics, construction workers, technicians, support staff, and many others. These jobs are being created as the result of 272 new clean energy projects in small towns and big cities across the country. They represent $278 billion in new investments.  

What is more, many of these new clean energy projects and jobs are, according to a Climate Power report, located in underserved communities of color, directly benefiting communities that continue to disproportionately bear the impacts of climate change. As of May 2023, several new environmental justice grant programs included in the IRA had already helped create 129 new clean energy projects in communities of color across 34 states, generating more than 85,263 new jobs and over $100 billion in new investments.

Given how much we must do and how little time we have in which to do it, it is exciting to see how quickly the IRA is reshaping our economy to address the challenge. The immediate beneficiaries are the hard-working people in the U.S. and their families, who have been struggling with the tumultuous economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is just the beginning: there’s a lot more work to be done to unlock the full power of the IRA, and there is more that Congress, the Administration, states, cities, and the private sector must do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A recent report from The Rhodium Group highlighted that the Biden Administration action to implement IRA alone will achieve close to 40% emissions reduction below 2005 levels.

The race between the worsening effects of climate change and accelerating clean energy globally is on, and it’s vitally important that clean energy wins.  

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Climate and Clean Energy