Climate Change

US chooses to step up climate action with landmark bill

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Published

August 9, 2022

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Published:

August 9, 2022

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The US Senate has approved a bill that allocates USD 369 billion for combating climate change by supporting the development and use of clean energy technologies, electric car purchases, and energy efficiency measures, among other things. However, the country’s goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050 could prove challenging as estimates show solar and wind capacities would have to be installed on a total area larger than California.

The bill passed through the Senate by a 51-50 margin, and is expected to be approved by the House of Representatives later this week and then signed into law by President Joe Biden, who has described it as “historic.”

Under Biden, the US has rejoined the Paris climate agreement, after the administration of former President Donald Trump formally pulled out of it in 2020. At the COP26 international climate summit in Glasgow last year, Biden said the US would cut its emissions in half by 2030, and reach net zero emissions by 2050.

The bill is expected to help reduce US emissions 40% by 2030 against 2005

The authors of the bill believe it could help reduce the US’ greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030, compared with the 2005 levels. The bill envisages tax credits for companies to build and buy climate-friendly technologies, from solar and wind power to energy storage and carbon capture.

Solar, wind, energy storage, and carbon capture technologies would be incentivized

It also includes up to USD 7,500 in tax credits for buying electric cars, and USD 4,000 for the purchase of used electric cars, as well as subsidies for households to replace natural gas boilers with heat pumps. The bill would also ensure USD 30 billion in grants and loans to states and power utilities to switch to clean energy, impose high fees on companies for excess methane emissions, and provide financial incentives for farmers to drop climate harming practices.

America’s encouraging move clouded by China’s decision to pull out of bilateral climate talks

The bill’s approval in the Senate comes just days after China suspended its climate talks with the US, raising fears that global efforts to curb global warming may suffer a serious blow.

The latest diplomatic row between the world’s two biggest greenhouse emitters was prompted by a recent visit by Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, to Taiwan, which China considers its territory.

Cooperation and strong action by the US and China is critical for averting catastrophic global warming, given that the two countries together emit some 40% of the world’s greenhouse gases, according to experts.

Securing enough land for renewable capacities might prove challenging

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San Francisco, California (Photo: USA-Reiseblogger from Pixabay)

According to The Los Angeles Times, researchers from Princeton University estimate that zeroing out US carbon emissions by 2050 could require installing solar panels and wind turbines across more than 225,000 square miles, an area much bigger than California.

Installing enough wind and solar capacities would call for vast areas of suitable land

The newspaper also reports that there is a misperception that there is plenty of land, because solar power plants and wind farms have to be built in specific places. Finding adequate sites for renewable energy projects, according to the report, could be challenging due to opposition from landowners and Native American tribes.

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