While many environmental advocates celebrate the Senate Democrats’ climate deal this week, frontline activists and more critical voices continue to note that the legislation, whatever its promises and upsides, remains an inadequate response to the global emergency that will likely further harm communities already affected by fossil fuel pollution.
The Senate approved the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in a party-line vote Sunday and it is expected to pass the Democratic-controlled House as soon as Friday.
Writing for Jacobin in the wake of the Senate vote, Branko Marcetic called for being “clear-eyed” about the package, adding that “the urge to smooth over the IRA’s serious flaws was understandable when its prospects of passing sat on a knife edge. But after passing the Senate, it’s now overcome its biggest hurdle.”
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden pledged to cut U.S. greenhouse gas pollution in half by 2030 at a virtual climate summit Thursday, outlining an aggressive target that would require sweeping changes to America’s energy and transportation sectors.
“These steps will set America on a path of a net-zero emissions economy by no later than 2050,” Biden said as the White House opened the two-day summit, attended by 40 leaders from around the world.
“Scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade, this is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of a climate crisis,” Biden said.
The pledge makes a big statement about the US’s intentions on climate ahead of a meeting of global leaders today
The news: The US will pledge at a summit of 40 global leaders today to halve its carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. This far exceeds an Obama-era pledge in 2014 to get emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. The hope is that the commitment will help encourage India, China, and other major emitters to sign up to similar targets before the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, set to be held in Glasgow, UK, in November. “The United States is not waiting, the costs of delay are too great, and our nation is resolved to act now,” the White House said in a statement.
The big picture: The world has already warmed up by 1.2 °C since preindustrial times, and it’s getting ever closer to the 1.5 °C threshold that the 2016 Paris agreement aimed to avoid. Climate scientists have been warning for years now that a significant amount of climate damage is already baked in thanks to previous emissions, but there is still a short window to avoid catastrophic global warming.
Earth is warming. Globally, 2020 was the second-warmest year on record, with a mean temperature 1.2°C above the pre-industrial average. By that measure, this means we are already four-fifths of the way to the 1.5°C “safe” level to which the world committed to try to limit global warming.
The culprits are carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels and land use changes that reduce Earth’s ability to draw down greenhouse gases. The results are already being felt, not just through rising temperatures, but also through loss of ice cover, rising sea levels and more extreme droughts, floods and storms across the globe.