With the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) on Tuesday Aug 16, the most significant climate legislation in US federal history (so far) became law.
Despite the odd name (and greatly overused TLA), the IRA contains a huge number of elements, totalling roughly $350 billion of investment, in climate solutions over the next ten years. This is an historic effort though it falls short of the broader ‘Green New Deal‘ goals that were proposed in 2019, and doesn’t include all of the elements that were in the proposed 2021 reconcilliation package (the American Jobs Plan in “Build Back Better“) that ultimately floundered.
As befitting an omnibus reconciliation package (of which there can only be one in each Congressional session), there are many different elements that have various pedigrees, magnitudes and likely impacts. There have been a number of good explainers about what is in the IRA, and what is not, and discussions about those climate impacts:
- The RepeatProject’s detailed analysis by Jesse Jenkins et al
- The David Roberts Volts podcasts here, and here with Jesse Jenkins and Leah Stokes, and again.
- Paul Krugman on why it doesn’t include a carbon price (though there is a methane fee)
- The New York Times visualization of the spending and revenue elements in the bill is useful:
As you can see there are tax credits and subsidies for electric vehicles, renewable energy, nuclear energy, transmission, hydrogen, air pollution reduction, energy infrastructure, climate resilience, rural development, residential buildings, etc. etc…. On the revenue side, the largest element is the proposed methane fee, followed by the reinstatement of the Superfund, a renewed tax on coal mining for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, and controversially, $0.5bn in anticipated revenue for oil and gas leases.
Modeling the impacts of all this is hard. The net effects will depend on how people and enterprise respond to these incentives, what technological improvements occur, how fast we learn to do better etc. and so it’s not sensible to expect too much precision. Nonetheless, the projections from the ReadyProject (linked above), or the Rhodium Group suggest that the impacts on US net GHG emissions will be substantial:
It’s not enough to meet the US Nationally Determined Contributions for 2030 under the UNFCCC or the Paris Agreement goals, but it definitely accelerates progress compared to the current trajectory.
The biggest unknowns are the geopolitical implications. Now that the US federal government is finally acting on climate, what impact does that have on the eagerness of China or India to fulfill their pledges or even increase their ambition? How much global technological innovation will be spurred by these investments? Historically, these estimates have tended to be conservative (i.e. the indirect impacts have generally proven to be much larger than anticipated). Thus predicting the eventual impacts on temperatures and other climate variables is fraught with uncertainty – not that that will prevent some folks from making all the minimizing assumptions and ignoring any follow-ons and international impacts…
However, the key point to remember is that global warming will only stop once we get to global net zero CO2 emissions (with minor caveats related to methane and aerosol levels). So estimated changes in US emissions on the order of 40% is very significant and, for the first time, commensurate with the size of the problem. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, this might not be the beginning of the end for climate policy, but it is likely to be the end of the beginning – at least at the federal US level.
67 Responses to "Climate impacts of the #IRA"
This is a gift link which will provide free access to the New York Times visualization for non-subscribers until around August 27, 2022
It will revert to the usual pawall behavior thereafter.
Susan Anderson says
Pleased to report that multiple users can access these “gifts” and the gifter can share it multiple times as well.
I’m not thrilled with the concessions, especially the promise to match new clean energy with new old dirty energy, but needs must.
The solar and wind subsidies do not kick in until a huge amount of federal land and sea areas are opened up for new fossil fuel projects, so these downward-curving graphs are hugely misleading.
Barton Paul Levenson says
I only worry that the GOP will repeal it as soon as they get back in power.
They must not get back in power.
Kevin McKinney says
Kevin McKinney says
Although they’d almost certainly have to be willing to end the filibuster to do that in any realistic scenario.
Don Williams says
The IRA sets a BUDGET for green energy projects — but my understanding is that money will be spent by the federal government only if future Congresses pass Appropriations laws to appropriate the money. Which is done on an annual basis. Depending upon who controls which house of Congress and the White House, that appropriation in future years may be the budgeted amount, may be half or may be $10. The Budget sets a maximum cap on what the Appropriations Committee can spend, not a mandate on what it must spend.
Environmental concerns are the first thing to be discarded in times of war — cold, economic or otherwise. Moving the world to net zero always depended upon the major powers cooperating –otherwise the temptation is great for one power to gain by using the cheaper energy of fossil fuels.
Great power competition and discord is rising fast..
Huh? Who controlled the gerrymandering this past cycle? While it seems people *might* finally be on to the GOP’s insurrectionist, unconstitutional ways, it won’t take much for them to flip enough seats since they are significant;y overrepresented in Congress due to the gerrymandering.
The dirty tricks are not over. I wouldn’t get too complacent.
Isn’t it more accurate to say that the increase in temperatures will stop when we reach zero emissions but that the elevated temperatures and most other climate impacts will remain for additional decades?
That’s what he means by “warming”… click on the reference to “net zero” in the paragraph.
I agree with you, Herb. I would says that the global temps are expected to stop rising when we hit net zero. But there is no reliable estimate as to when that might happen. There is a lot of talk about net zero, but not a lot of progress.
My guess is that five years from now we will be reading headlines that say the warming is happening faster than expected and that emission targets continue to be out on the horizon somewhere. I hope I am wrong.
Jean-François Fleury says
Even if we achieve the net zero emissions target, the climate will continue to change. The Antarctic ice sheet will contnue melting as the global ocean has slowly absorbed a lot of energy coming from the past greenhouse effect and will lose slowly this excess of energy. As the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is not going to decrease signiifcantly for a longtime (if the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere decreases, it will be compensated by the desorption by the oceans of the carbon dioxide previously absorbed by the oceans), the climate and the rest of the Earth systems will evolve over centuries untill they reach an equilibrium state, which will be probably something like the climate of the Pliocene clmatic optimum with 20 m of total sea level rise., for example. That’s explains why, alongside reducing carbon dioxide emissions, we must create our own carbon sinks in order to stop significantly the evolution of the climate. Of course, it will require a tremendous amount of energy while,at the same time, we will have, and we have to compensate right now for the decrease of oil supply.
Jean-François Fleury says
significantly is better. And there is a point in excess after ”rise”.
Richard Pauli says
The adjustment time is what matters. – and that can be a very long time. The CO2 replacement time may be short, but not as consequential — many years to slow down the surging train. — at least from what I read at Skeptical Science
Richard A Pauli says
Dominik Lenné says
I wonder what impact the program will have on the sense of urgency and the determination to do what’s necessary in the wider public. For those already on board it will surely be an uplift in morale. For the die-hard deniers it will make no difference. But what about those in the middle, the “climate change is real but I want to keep on doing things like always / accept some but not the full scale of change” – faction, or the “climate change might or might not be real and we might or might not have an influence on it” – faction.
I m o it is important to implant the “zero-emission society image” into our minds and work it out. Stop just thinking in “improvements” and go back from the goal, gauging every decision, small and large, against this goal. Then things fall much easier into places.
Lorna Salzman says
If we are talking about NET energy, why are the energy and resource inputs to a renewable energy economy not being included in these calculations? We are starting to comprehend the environmental and energy impact of exporting and developing renewable energy technology. We need to continue and face the conclusion. No one has yet done this since we don’t know the scale and speed of the transition to 100% renewables and wont know for a long time. Whatever the quantity of energy is required for renewables development, or the extent of
mining, deforestation and habitat degradation/destruction, we will not know if these will wipe out the decrease in energy consumption from the various incentives and disincentives. We KNOW that all production and development will require fossil fuels and will themselves produce CO2. How can we conduct an informed discussion or make credible predictions unless we include these factors? Where is the scientific community, which should be raising these issues publicly and weighing in on the discussion?
This is called “lifecycle analysis”, have you searched for that term in Google scholar? I’m getting a lot of hits on wind, solar, electric vehicle etc life cycle studied.
Barton Paul Levenson says
All the reports I’ve seen agree that the mineral and energy footprint of renewables is far less than that from fossil fuels, by at least an order of magnitude.
Karsten V. Johansen says
The amount of money used here is just a few percent of the enormous US military budget. And why did it get the vote of Manchin the coal-lobbyist (paid by the coal-lobby)? Because there is a lot of fossil subsidies in this.
And still: no carbon fee and dividend. But, as said years ago by James Hansen, just throwing more money at renewables will just lower the general energy price, and thus mean even higher total energy consumption, leaving the proportion of fossil energy use unchanged (around 85 pct. as it has been since 1975, as Wally Broecker noted 2013 in a lecture, here https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5NxyPWPl8FA&t=7s ).
Don Williams says
The “enormous US military budget” is for when the maize crop fails in Mexico/Central America and we suddenly have 200 million refugees heading toward the Texas border. Governor Abbott doesn’t have enough buses to send that horde to New York City.
What is interesting is how the News Media is remaining rather silent about the huge fortunes being made from the shift to renewable energy (and that were at risk if a deal had not been cut with Manchin). Tesla went from $740 a share on July 20 to $944 on Aug 4 — giving Elon Musk an additional gain of $1.7 Billion when he sold shares for a total of $6.88 Billion. And Bill Gates’ er.. chats with Manchin become more understandable in light of his large purchases of land in prime wind turbine territory in North Dakota.
Kevin McKinney says
1) The “maize crop”–why not just call it corn?–has already failed, multiple times. And the utility of F-35s or the now-famous HIMARS in dealing with footsore hordes is pretty dubious.
2) It’s a capitalist economy. Substantive change of any sort is always linked with profit. Duh. Nor (IMO) is the wealth of Musk, Gates, et al in any way “ignored.”
3) Tesla had previously been well over $1k, and has always been quite volatile. The rise you mention isn’t that unusual. (Nor have comparable falls.)
Don Williams says
The Maize crop in Mexico/ Central America has NOT failed on the scale projected by Jonas Jagermeyr (NASA Goddard) and his colleagues. Their report was too recent to be covered in IPCC AT6 — it indicates maize yields in Mexico and Central America could drop by 20 to 40+ percent by 2100 across the entire countries, not just in one small area. Anyone checked on the population growth rates?
Yes, that Jagermeyr’s projection was for SSP585 but the SSP’s have similar warming up to around 2050– and Jagermeyr’s paper says climate related drops in yield can show up as early as 2032.
Telsa’s stock price is volatile because it depends totally upon the US Congress funding the construction of a huge number of recharging stations across the US. Which is why Tesla nose dived from $1000 a share in April to $670 in June when Manchin dug in his heels – only to make a miraculous comeback as he offered to “continue negotiations”.
The F35 can carry the B61 nuke (50kt) which can create a Zone I lethal radiation patch of 264 square miles (roughly 16 miles by 16 miles). However, the normal F35 job is to gain air dominance so B62 bombers can drop massive quantities of cluster bombs, napalm, nukes,etc. Also, see “AC130 Gunship”.
My main point is that “climate policy” involves a lot more than “climate”. As shown by the reboot of Cold War 2.0 in Ukraine.
Harold Battarbee says
Please explain to me why the Vostok ice core data is being ignored!
Who is ignoring exactly what about the Vostok cores. Be specific.
Hint: If you are quoting Easterbrook’s Heartland (e.g., Chicago 2010) and WUWT presentatiions, I would check how well his notions panned out after peer review and further examination. Also, you might look at his peer reviewed stuff on Vostok (Hint #2: You will have a very difficult time finding any in the actual science literature.) Heartland denies tobacco harm to this day as well, I should note.
Try actual science sources for actual scientific information..
Please explain to us how the Vostok ice core data affect the impact of legislation.
Kevin McKinney says
You’d have to explain why and how you think it’s being “ignored” in the first place.
Barton Paul Levenson says
HB: Please explain to me why the Vostok ice core data is being ignored!
BPL: As far as I know, it isn’t. What are you talking about?
Harold Battarbee says
Still waiting for an answer!
You had plenty of answers. I should add that the IPCC reports fully covered the Vostok core research and (rather more accurately than Easterbrook) showed what they mean together with many thousand other studies some years ago ago. See https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/03/TAR-02.pdf.
Here is the discussion of Vostok from Section 2.4, How Rapidly did Climate Change in the Distant Past? 2.4.1 Background:
“…The second concerns the greenhouse gas record (CO2 and CH4) which has now been considerably extended due to the recent completion of drilling of the Vostok ice core in central East Antarctica. The strong relationship between CO2 and CH4 and Antarctic climate documented over the last climatic cycle has been remarkably confirmed over four climatic cycles, spanning about 420 ky (Figure 2.22). Present day levels of these two important greenhouse gases appear unprecedented during this entire interval (Petit et al., 1999; and Figure 2.22). From a detailed study of the last three glacial terminations in the Vostok ice core, Fischer et al. (1999) conclude that CO2 increases started 600 ± 400 years after the Antarctic warming. However, considering the large uncertainty in the ages of the CO2 and ice (1,000 years or more if we consider the ice accumulation rate uncertainty), Petit et al. (1999) felt it premature to ascertain the sign of the phase relationship between CO2 and Antarctic temperature at the initiation of the terminations. In any event, CO2 changes parallel Antarctic temperature changes during deglaciations (Sowers and Bender, 1995; Blunier et al., 1997; Petit et al., 1999). This is consistent with a significant contribution of these greenhouse gases to the glacial-interglacial changes by amplifying the initial orbital forcing (Petit et al., 1999).”
Ray Ladbury says
Still waiting for a coherent question. The Vostok data are in no way being ignored. A Google Scholar search turns up over 22000 results. Go start reading. We’ll be here when you get back.
John J Berger says
I would like the author to elaborate on his assertion that “. . . the key point to remember is that global warming will only stop once we get to global net zero CO2 emissions (with minor caveats related to methane and aerosol levels). ” I’m not a climate scientist but I don’t think expecting warming to cease in 2050 is correct because anthropogenic emissions are not the only cause of global climate change. Notably, our emissions have initiated various positive feedback cycles that include both CO2 and methane from thawing Arctic permafrost, excess emissions from climate related wildfires, and positive net emissions from sea ice melt and from tropical forest areas that have flipped from carbon sinks to carbon sources. Please provide some numerical substantiation or references for your claim. My impression is that due to the elevated natural emissions just cited plus the Earth’s continued thermal imbalance by 2050, warming likely will continue.
John, why don’t you provide some references for your claim, since you are not, as you say, a climate scientist?
People here are happy to discuss actual science but you are just making vague assertions. We all know about the factors you mention, and they are taken into account by the experts like Gavin.
Once we reach net zero, some models suggest the continuing uptake of carbon by biomass and oceans will quickly stabilize the system. The models are uncertain, but further warming is far from certain. See
Kevin McKinney says
It’s based on numerical modeling, for instance:
If you track tonnes of CO2, human emissionss are still bigger than annual atmospheric increases, so despite wildfires etc the natural balance is *still* to absorb CO2 from the air. At net zero emissions then CO2 air levels should go down. Even though the carbon cycle in the warmer earth is different than before! This is tied to global net zero though, not 2050 specifically.
The story isn’t simple though, here are some papers:
macias shurly says
@John J Berger: – ” …the key point to remember is that global warming will only stop once we get to global net zero CO2 emissions … ” I’m not a climate scientist but… ”
— Global warming will only stop once we get to global net zero energy gain !
The earth energy imbalance (EEI) is arguably the most important metric related to climate change. It is the net result of all the processes and feedbacks in play in the climate system.
All possibilities to compensate for this positive and thus warming EEI of ~ +1W/m² to zero – are reflected in a global energy balance (GEB).
In this GEB for land area I have shown the cooling effect of 9L/m² per year of additional irrigation/evaporation. The global cooling effect is based on an improved cloud albedo (increased mean cloud cover and/or optical depth by an intensified water cycle).
Compensation would also take place if anyone manages to remove 50-65ppm of CO2 from the atmosphere.
Very unrealistic considering we are still adding 2-3ppm annually at the moment.
Another alternative strategy would be to greatly improve the albedo on the land surface.
E.g. through an extended and updated “cool roof regulation”, which is not only limited to roofs, but to all outdoor surfaces designed by humans (roads, squares, automobiles, trains, containers… simply everything… agriculture incl.) .
The most expensive and most time-consuming strategy is certainly the reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The most sensible behavior of mankind in an emergency situation is certainly to launch all available strategies with blue or red flashing lights and sirens.
Richard A Pauli says
It seems likely to me that the US IRA legislation will lead to greatly reduced methane emissions as they are reported by industry to the EPA. I understand that the IRA levies a tax on methane emissions above a certain level. That seems like a good thing. Unfortunately, the expected fall of reported emissions is likely to be the result of complex reporting rules and novel interpretations rather than actual reduced methane emissions from the fossil fuel industry.
“An unorthodox reading of a single word in the EPA regulations allowed Range to slash its reported emissions from energy production by 93% in 2020 compared with the approach used by most oil and gas companies. That’s enough to move the company from the bottom of its peer rankings to the top. The EPA says this interpretation isn’t valid, although Range insists that it is.”
Ladies and Gentlemen including Hr G.Schmidt
This is rather domestic, US affairs thus difficult for me to paricipate.
But let me say that you seem to have quite hard times, both democracy and economy and future and environment under pressure. . Donald Trump could obviously eradicate what Obama did, simply by a “precident order” eradicate by a pen stroke. So what comes next with what Biden signs under today?
What is the UN worth and what is international agreements and law worth, and what is science worth, what does reason and logics , nature and humanity mean in a world like this?
What seems to be weighty is when statesmen can agree. And further on regional and national level, when the citizens can generally agree on enlighted and civilized dicipline in critical times so that tyranny and martial law can be avoided. And good and civil, meaningful work can be done. For that it is needed, that people can feel their own value and the value of their society, and believe in the future.
Karsten V. Johansen says
Interesting new climate action:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ha0tVFHCE3k climate petition to EPA James Hansen and others
Comment on the IRA: https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/08/17/this-is-no-time-for-climate-complacency/
Comments on the current development concerning climate and climate politics:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aey2bTi2PRQ George Monbiot on climate morons or as I call them: climate ignorants
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IKhzLdfoW9w George Monbiot interviews Peter Kalmus
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gTwqadhAIV8&t=2s George Monbiot interviewed by BBC’s Stephen Sackur
Karsten V. Johansen says
“In his book 1984, George Orwell describes a double-think totalitarian state where most of the population accepts “the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane.”1 Orwell could have been writing about climate change and policymaking. International agreements talk of limiting global warming to 1.5–2 degrees Celsius (°C), but in reality they set the world on a path of 3–5°C of warming. Goals are reaffirmed, only to be abandoned. Coal is
“clean”. Just 1°C of warming is already dangerous, but this cannot be admitted. The planetary future is hostage to myopic national self-interest. Action is delayed on the assumption that as yet unproven
technologies will save the day, decades hence. The risks are existential, but it is “alarmist” to say so.
A one-in-two or one-in-three chance of missing a goal is normalised as reasonable. Moral hazard permeates official thinking, in that there is an incentive to ignore the risks in the interests of political expediency. Climate policymaking for years has been cognitively dissonant, “a flagrant violation of reality”. So it is unsurprising that there is a lack of understanding amongst the public and elites of the full measure of the climate challenge. Yet most Australians sense where we are heading: three-quarters of Australians see climate change as catastrophic risk,2 and half see our way of life ending within the next 100 years.3”
“While it would be nice to think that we are overplaying the threat of climate breakdown, following an appeaser line would be courting disaster. This is particularly the case as there seems to be a growing propensity to label pretty much anything outside the current consensus as doomist. But consensus doesn’t equate to being right. In fact, research has revealed that climate scientists as a tribe (of which I count myself a member), and IPCC reports underplay the speed and intensity with which climate breakdown is happening.
The reality is that our understanding of potential tipping points and feedback effects remains too poorly constrained for us to be confident of how severe climate breakdown will end up proving to be. Furthermore, minimising the potential impact of climate breakdown is more likely to lead to increased reticence in relation to slashing emissions than any potential exaggeration of the likely endgame.
A middle of the road route would be to no one’s advantage – so, as for most situations wherein the risk is hard to quantify, there is only one sensible way forward: to hope for the best, while preparing for the worst.”
Solar Jim says
Mother Jones, 8/10/22 :
” . . . subsidies, the vast majority of the funds will benefit corporations.
A cost-benefit analysis by the Climate Justice Alliance (CJA), which represents a wide range of urban and rural groups nationwide, concludes that the strengths of the IRA are outweighed by the bill’s weaknesses and threats posed by the expansion of fossil fuels and unproven technologies such as carbon capture and hydrogen generation—which the bill will incentivize with billions of dollars of tax credits that will mostly benefit oil and gas.”
My sentiments exactly – good old semi-fraudulent corporatism, American style. One analysis by NY Public Power even indicates that since “clean” energy developers don’t have upfront tax liabilities to use in the tax credit scheme, funding must be sought through Bank Holding Corporations. Like the ones poring hundreds of billions into new fossil expansion. Accurate or not, and there are many other relevant observations, the legislative devil is always in the details.
That’s bullcrap. Look up the Rhodium review of the law.
What is a TLA?
It’s a self-referential acronym standing for “three letter acronym”!
Karsten should note that some who opened it began closing the Worst-Case Overton Window some time ago:
Gary Witt says
As shown in the NY Times graphic, the IRA contains $30 bln for nuclear energy. Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure bill also supported nuclear energy. Do climate scientists generally support nuclear energy as a way to reduce climate change? If they do, why not speak out more? Many independents and Republicans are very concerned about climate change but are also very skeptical of the proposition that net zero is a realistic goal without significant investment in nuclear energy. There is very legitimate fear that a net zero goal without nuclear power is a recipe for energy poverty and economic disaster.
Barton Paul Levenson says
GW: There is very legitimate fear that a net zero goal without nuclear power is a recipe for energy poverty and economic disaster.
BPL: No, it’s not legitimate at all. Renewables can do all that’s needed. Nuclear costs more than any other energy source and takes the longest to build. It’s a technological dead end.
Adam Lea says
“Renewables can do all that’s needed.” I guess that could be true if a country makes a proper effort to get sufficienf capacity installed. Part of the reason the gas prices in the UK are skyrocketing is the UK’s gas reserves have been depleted. One cause of this was a long period of cold weather in 2021 (i.e. winter followed by an April which had the lowest minimum mean temperature since 1922), but another reason was 2021 was less windy than normal, which reduced power generation from wind turbines, the shortfall being made up by burning gas.
I think near 100% renewable energy generation on a country scale are almost, but not quite there.
John Pollack says
Gary, my take is that climate scientists are about as split on nuclear energy as the rest of the country. (For the record, I’m a meteorologist, but not a climate scientist.) James Hansen is a strong proponent. There are also some strong anti-nuke people, and I agree with the latter group.
There is strong consensus among climate scientists that without a rapid reduction in fossil fuel burning there will be a planetary scale climate disaster, punctuated by a fast-rising incidence of local and regional disasters. The difficulty lies in the “rapid.” There are simply no mature technologies ready to swap out immediately for fossil fuels at the scale required. That includes nuclear, since the new nuclear plants will take quite a while to build and test out. So, it’s a choice of tradeoffs between how fast you can get new power sources built, how much they’ll cost, and how much in the way of resources and environmental damage they will entail. All the while, we’re wading deeper into the climate minefield. I will also note that the more power you require, the harder it gets to solve. If conservation equates to “energy poverty” and we end up building fewer heavily air conditioned data centers, etc., I’m all for it.
The obvious short-term political solution in the U.S. is to fund everyone who can make a claim to reducing current GHG emissions, and let the proponents of the different technologies fight it out later. That’s what just passed.
So Gary, once again we come to that never-answered question on this topic:
What’s your plan?
Do “Republicans and independents” want the US federal government to nationalize the electricity sector like France did, and dictate what kind of generation gets built, and where, and how much, and set the prices? France is the only example of a major transition to nuclear.
If not, can you explain why any private-sector investor would accept the risk of cost overruns, construction delays, and bankruptcies associated with nuclear plants, when they can get a virtually guaranteed good ROI in about 3 years by putting their money into a natural gas facility?
So, over decades, I’ve asked this question, and the only answer, even after I stipulate that I think nuclear plants are safe, and waste can be dealt with, is….. “but it’s safe, and waste can be dealt with!”.
That’s not a plan. Maybe you will be the first to actually answer my question; hope springs eternal and all that.
Gary Witt says
Thanks to Zebra and to John for your thoughtful responses. John mentioned Jim Hansen. I confess, he is my favorite human. I was very active in Citizens Climate Lobby for five years due to his leadership.
My plan is to combine two policies. The first is a CCL style revenue neutral carbon tax they call Fee & Dividend. The second policy is strong government support for nuclear power. The two bills passed by this administration, IRA and the 2021 infrastructure bill are a good start on the second policy but more funding for research and some rationalization of nuclear power regulation are also needed.
The brewing economic crisis in Europe from high energy prices demonstrates the risk of pursuing net zero with only wind and solar. Climate scientists have unique credibility on the thorny problem we face. How do we get to net zero while maintaining our economic prosperity and democratic political system? I hope the readers of this blog who are nuclear power skeptics will reconsider in light of current events.
Gary, I think that people who are skeptical in a pragmatic way like John and I and some others would be happy to reconsider…. once you get that carbon tax passed. But until then, the political climate does not seem conducive to having a rational approach beyond what is already happening.
And for me at least, there would have to be restructuring of the system so that there would be competition in a true free market for generation, with monopoly restricted to the natural monopoly involved in transmission and distribution.
So far, recent nuclear projects, which have received considerable financial support from the government, and pre-approval of designs, have raised prices without even increasing capacity. Hardly a promising approach.
Silvia Leahu-Aluas says
Gary, the opposite is true: the current energy crisis in the EU is caused by the fact that they did not invest enough and fast enough in renewables. The EU Commission is making it clear: “Renewables are the cheapest and cleanest energy available, and can be generated domestically, reducing our need for energy imports.” As it should be clear for all of us and for everywhere, by now.
The new revised energy plan aims to finally get EU on track with renewable energy targets that support climate mitigation, economic justice/wellbeing/happiness/enoughness (as prosperity too often means excess) and low geopolitical risks.
Which type of energy has the highest geopolitical risk? Nuclear. Besides many others, that make nuclear a no in any future energy mix.
Do you want a nuclear plant and waste storage in your neighborhood? For me that is the ultimate test of support, as we cannot make such consequential choices in the abstract and we should not outsource disaster on frontline communities. In fact, the latter on anybody from any species.
Silvia, in the comment just above I used the term “pragmatic”, and I’m afraid I have to say that your approach represents a kind of mirror image of the unrealistic understanding/expectations of the people espousing nuclear as “the solution”.
Whatever the EU reference you gave may say about renewables, it is clearly focused on arranging new sources of FF, obviously natural gas in particular, from not-Russia.
And the TL:DR paper with endless lists about nuclear issues just plays into the framing that I mentioned in my original response to Gary… “but it’s safe”… “but it’s not safe”… “but it’s safe”…. which is the meaningless ‘debate’ that has been going on forever.
There’s a simple reality, consistently ignored by both sides:
-Nuclear can’t compete with natural gas and coal.
-Natural gas can compete with renewables.
But both sides want to pretend that they are advising the New World Order Global Energy Czar, who will decide with the stroke of a sharpie which will be ‘the exclusive new technology’, because FF have already been completely banned.
They haven’t, and there is no NWOGEC.
What this IRA bill reminds me of is Obamacare. Obamacare was the worst possible way to expand medical coverage to tens of millions of people who didn’t have any. But…. it expanded medical coverage to tens of millions of people who didn’t have any.
It got passed by not breaking the rice-bowls of various powerful interest groups in the medical-industrial complex, so that our healthcare system in the US is still ridiculously expensive, wasteful, and less effective than what happens in Europe. But, tens of millions of people now get to participate in that terrible system who had nothing before.
That’s how it’s going to go on the energy front. Far from perfect, but perhaps the seeds have been planted to begin to make things better.
Yes, we conscider it.
There was a person here , a certain “Engineering poet” who disappeared after I took him under scrutiny / embarassing interrogation..
We live with the ices and waters and lacks of the same and set on the green values photosynthesis to save us all together with condoms and P-.pills.
Putin has turned off the gas that was thought to be an intermediate rescue.
They are shooting and quarreling now at Europes largest nuclear power plant in Ukraina,
Will there be another Cernobyl and worse than that?
To my wiew, there seems that they must learn to behave first befrore there can be any safe nuclear plants, Thorium or Uranium Large and small, and with Plutonium also.
In the meantime they heat up again with coal. and employ spindoctors to discuss and to deny- misinterprete the smogs as anything normal, progressive, and healthy..
Omega Centauri says
The part of N-strategy I do endorse is avoiding pre-mature shutdown of existing plant. Of note, California’s Democratic Govenor Newsome as part of his climate initiative, has added funds to keep the states last remaining Nuke plant running well past the currently planned 2024 shutdown. He is the leading contender for next Democratic presidential candidate should Biden not run in 2024. So even left of center politicians are considering this.
Kevin McKinney says
So, let’s do our damndest to avoid military conflict within the US, and other areas with nuclear reactors. (As if there weren’t already enough reasons for that…)
Remembering, of course, that there seems to be a significant uptick in the numbers of folks who not only accept violent conflict as an acceptable political tool, but who positively relish the prospect.
Bill Henderson says
The truth about needed emission reduction is somewhere between
Renewable energy is set for an unprecedented boom in the US in the wake of its first ever climate bill, with the capacity of solar and wind projects expected to double by the end of the decade and providing the bulk of total American electricity supply, new analysis has shown.
We either take drastic and unprecedented action to reduce fossil fuel use, or, we allow corporations, billionaires, and politicians to continue to blow smoke up our backside by peddling the idea that small and relatively insignificant changes from within the broken system will lead to a magical solution.
What happens right now is immensely important and we need to get it right so I hope you are going to follow the reasoning of this new blog because
Climate Uncensored starts from this deeply uncomfortable but honest recognition of the situation.
We acknowledge the inspiring and often courageous work of the climate science community. But when it comes to cutting emissions, there is a widespread failure to accept the true scale and urgency of the challenge. Such ‘mitigation-denial’ is rife, even within the expert community.
Climate Uncensored focuses on cutting emissions, taking our lead from the Paris commitment to hold the global temperature rise to ‘well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C’. We are guided by the IPCC’s carbon budgets and always strive to remain cognisant of issues of equity and fairness.
On this website and (soon) accompanying YouTube channel and podcast, we provide a balanced and uncensoredassessment of where we are now, how we are doing and what more needs to be done. We do not underplay the scale of the mitigation challenge nor become merchants of doom.
We know that one more small and independent web presence will not change the world. But by providing accessible, robust and engaging material, we aim to equip and empower people to tackle the mitigation challenge head on.
The real problem with the IRA initiative is that it consists mostly of policies in the now dated and obsolescent ‘energy transition’ conception of mitigation – instead of focusing action on actually reducing the production and use of fossil fuels.
Those in the US (and globally too) who are most active in mitigation science and policy are trapped in this energy transition conception of mitigation and really want it to work but that doesn’t mean that it will:
Energy transitions take decades we no longer have; historically new energy sources add to instead of displacing existing sources of energy; renewables aren’t decreasing fossil fuel use, and building renewable capacity of a scale needed to displace 50% of fossil fuel use by 2030 is now delusional.
Obviously a step into the right direction, also notes that the fossil stuff impacts of the bill may be little. However with the current state of the U.S. and the rest of the world we may see slowing of climate progress. Or perhaps a more bumby road. Yet, some studies find considerable worse more extreme outcomes.
Discovery: Past Global Warming was more Extreme, Temperatures of 12–14C, today equivalent is around 1–2C https://climatestate.com/2022/08/31/discovery-past-global-warming-was-more-extreme-temperatures-of-12-14c-today-equivalent-is-around-1-2c/ Also find the link at the bottom to a similar conclusion from 2018.
Thus, we may be now at the point where we require a all hands on deck approach, all working together.
Here you go:
The point being that you could gain an enormous amount of efficiency through the design of both the grid and the housing itself. And, to make the business model work, there would be real motivation to do so.
Richard the Weaver says
It’s a start, I suppose. But instead of going with wartime conservation (like “the greatest generation”) we’re busy building fossil infrastructure so European toes stay toasty.
Lots of profit involved in building shiny new infrastructure that will be way too unprofitable to decommission.
Jeez, not even a national 60mph speed limit.
Dan DaSilva says
The one thing it will actually do is grease democrat donors. Meanwhile It will reduce climate change about as much as it will reduce inflation.
Kevin McKinney says
Any other unsupported assertions you’d like to get out of your system while you’re here? Maybe a complaint about how those awful Democrats have ‘politicized’ climate change (along with race, and gender, and COVID, and Ukraine–not to mention the classification rules for national security documents?)
Ray Ladbury says
Thank you, Dan. Based on your record here, I take your criticism as the strongest of endorsements.
It’s called be a world leader. Something the US always did before your orange messiah occupied the WH.
P.S. It is spelled “Democratic”.