A year in, landmark U.S. climate policy drives energy transition but hurdles remain

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the United States’ most significant climate legislation, has completed its first year, resulting in a transition towards renewable energy but also facing a number of obstacles.

Lauded but Controversial Legislation: The IRA was passed on August 7, 2022, aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions by moving the economy away from fossil fuels.
* The Act channels a minimum of $369 billion towards incentives for most economic sectors to adopt renewable energy and low-carbon technologies.
* The legislation endured opposition from Republican lawmakers who argue the cost is too high and the transition from fossil fuels should not be prioritized.

First-Year Achievements: The Act has spurred a move towards renewable energy within its first year.
* Nearly $200 billion of the IRA’s tax credits are focused on cleaning up the two biggest sources of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions: transportation and power plants.
* After the enactment of the IRA, there have been numerous announcements of new factories for electric vehicles, batteries, and solar components in the U.S.

Remaining Hurdles: Despite these achievements, the Act faces significant challenges.
* Auto workers fear being marginalized in the shift to electric vehicles.
* Wind and solar developers face opposition from local communities and struggle with grid capacity for new projects.
* It may take years for states to implement certain programs, such as rebate programs aimed at low- and moderate-income households.

Greenhouse Gas Emission Impact: Studies suggest that the IRA will make a significant dent in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, but not enough to meet Paris Agreement targets.
* The Rhodium Group determined the IRA could decrease emissions up to 48% from their peak by 2035, but this is still short of the Paris Agreement’s goal of halving emissions from their 2005 peak by 2030.
* The U.S aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, contributing no new greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, which the IRA alone cannot achieve.

View original article on NPR

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