It’s a summer morning somewhere in the United States in the year 2030. You get out of bed and boil water for coffee on the induction cooker before checking the news: more than half of new cars sold in the United States are now electric vehicles. Asthma rates in children are falling sharply, just as researchers predicted.
Coffee in hand, you get out and unplug your car, then drive to the battery factory where you’re a technician. Maybe you are even a union representative. Down near the slightly slower rising shore, you pass the natural gas power station which closed a few years ago. What are they going to do with it? Supposedly the area around there is much nicer than it was, with a large wetland park…
This portrait of life in 2030 would have looked like a climate optimist’s hopeless dream just a few weeks ago. Today, it is at least a little more plausible.
The Inflation Reduction Act, which just passed the House after being approved by the Senate last week, is an unprecedented climate investment in US history. The $374 billion spending package, expected to be signed into law by President Joe Biden, aims to accelerate the largest economy’s belated shift to clean energy. It also contains controversial sweeteners for the oil and gas industries.
As the bill made its way through Congress, Bloomberg Green asked experts on the other side of the climate to participate in a brainstorming exercise: Imagine it’s 2030. What is one aspect of America’s future that wouldn’t have been possible without this legislation?
🚨The #InflationReductionAct is a big deal.
From tackling the climate crisis, to reducing drug costs for seniors, to reducing health care costs for Americans, this bill cuts costs at every level.
— U.S. Representative Kathy Castor (@USRepKCastor) August 12, 2022
Of course, there is a chasm between the law on paper and how the provisions of its more than 700 pages will be implemented in the years to come. As Ryan Panchadsaram, a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins and former deputy chief technology officer in the Obama administration, puts it: “There are rules and regulations that officials make and enforce. Will they actually lead to the right thing?
With that caveat, here are eight mostly optimistic visions of the (near) future from climate watchers, tech investors and activists.
1. Improving air quality starts at home
Saul Griffith of Rewiring America, a nonprofit that promotes the electrification of American communities, points to tangible health benefits, such as lower rates of respiratory disease, as a likely outcome of the IRA by 2030. The law offers generous rebates for homeowners to switch from gas to induction cooktops, which would reduce harmful indoor pollutants. The house of the future will be all-electric, says Griffith, with heat pumps for water and space heating.
2. Healthier neighborhoods delivered by (electric) trucks
As longtime chair of the California Air Resources Board, Mary Nichols served as the state’s chief climate regulator between 2007 and 2020. One of the biggest potential life transformations in 2030, she says, is the electrification of highly polluting heavy trucks serving the ports. and sprawling logistics hubs that are typically located in low-income communities of color. “That’s the key to at least start taking environmental justice seriously,” says Nichols. “Electric cars always grab the headlines, but they’re actually the trucks that make the money and they also produce the most emissions.”
3. More transparent supply chains
The IRA includes a two-part credit of $7,500 for clean vehicles. Cars are entitled to half if the main battery materials are extracted in a country with which the United States has a free trade agreement or if they were recycled in a North American factory. They qualify for the second half if the battery is largely assembled in North America. These provisions will encourage automakers to show “evidence of where their critical minerals and production occurred,” says Ellen Carey, vice president of global policy and public affairs at Circulor Ltd., which makes supply chain tracking software.
4. Cities that achieve 100% electrification
Electrification won’t just happen at the single-home or neighborhood level, says Donnel Baird, the founder of BlocPower, a New York-based startup that does green building retrofits. It will happen on an urban scale, with a boost from new legislation. “There’s something like 20 million to 50 million American buildings that haven’t had an energy retrofit in 40 years,” he says. “This bill will simply allow them to bypass natural gas, coal and oil for clean electricity.”
5. Slower rising seas…
Jean Flemma, co-founder of the Urban Ocean Lab think tank, says the emission reduction actions enabled by the IRA could lead to a slowing of sea level rise. This could end up providing a lifeline vulnerable coastal communities. “Slowing the rate of sea level rise is extremely important from an environmental justice perspective,” she says, noting that the law provides $2.6 billion for coastal resilience. “When you look at New York and other cities, communities of color and low-resource communities are the ones most at risk from rising sea levels from increased storms as a result of climate change. “
6. …and the continued rise in temperatures
Daniela V. Fernandez, founder and chief executive of the Sustainable Ocean Alliance, says the IRA, while “promising and exciting” in places, is not alone in taking up the urgent task of keeping global warming below the threshold. 1.5° of the Paris Agreement. Celsius (2.7° Fahrenheit). The rise in global average temperatures is already 1.2°C above the pre-industrial era, and there is no doubt that Americans will experience even higher temperatures in 2030. “It’s unfortunately below what this moment demands,” Fernandez says. She wants a “declaration of climate emergency and from the point of view of the energy transition, a complete divestment from fossil fuels”.
7. A well-established green economy
With incentives to build renewable energy, make agriculture more efficient, promote electric vehicles, capture carbon and more, the IRA is expected to bring many more Americans into the economy. clean energy by the end of the decade. Because of this, predicts Trevor Houser, a partner at research firm Rhodium Group, the rollback to emissions-intensive industries will become less and less desirable or feasible. “The most successful view of this,” he says, is that economic growth and domestic investment “fundamentally change climate and clean energy policy in the United States because there is a broad and diverse set of stakeholders with equity in this transition”.
Leah Stokes, professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, predicts that the legion of employees whose livelihoods come from the clean technology sectors launched by the climate bill will create a viable political constituency of ‘by 2030. employing people in every state and district of this country in clean energy will drive our federal government energy policy,’ says Stokes, who is also an adviser to the lobby group Evergreen Stock. “He’s a total game changer.”
8. Next generation climate policy
Julian Brave NoiseCat, a climate and indigenous peoples advocate, hopes that by 2030 we will be back on the IRA as a first step. The bill gets the United States “enough on the political track,” he says, by reducing emissions so that better government policy can follow later this decade. “I think there is a legitimate concern that communities that have been impacted by polluted land and left behind by the fossil fuel economy are not getting enough investment in this bill to benefit from a cleaner economy,” he said. “This bill marks an end in generational politics on climate change.”