So what's in that climate bill

Normally I don't enjoy receiving infodumps via video talking-head, but everything I've read about the Inflation Reduction Act has either been incredibly vague, or so longwinded that I retained none of it. This video does a good job of summing it up. Tl;dw -- it seems pretty good actually.

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24 Responses:

  1. Waider says:

    Honestly, there's so much positive in that - Manchin's carveouts notwithstanding - that I can't help but wonder what the Giant Catch is.

    • Waider says:

      (also there has been some, ah, comedy in these quarters at the bill's acronym and its prominent use in various unintentionally double-entendre contexts.)

    • George Dorn says:

      The biggest gotcha, in my mind, is how far back the GOP will walk this when they next get enough power to do so.  If everything but Manchin's carveouts get rolled back in three years, will it have a net positive impact over the next 10?

      My tiny hope is that enough new green industry will pop up by then that it'll have some lobbying (bribing) power to protect itself with.

      • George Dorn says:

        (And even three years might be optimistic, depending on the midterms.)

      • MattyJ says:

        It's actually not that simple to roll something back that the President has signed. You can roll forward other things to muck things up or block it before it crosses the POTUS' desk, but flat out rolling things back is difficult.

        Twelve years on we still have the Affordable Care Act, largely unchanged, despite a presidency that had a majority in both houses and the Supreme Court, and a lot of unhinged reps in all branches of government.

        It turns out an 'unpopular' act that allowed ~20 million previously uninsured people to get medical insurance and healthcare has had some staying power.

        If this act does what it wants to do, even within the next two years, it'll likely become popular enough to be a non-issue.

    • Jay says:

      The big fat catch is the obvious: even if the plan works perfectly, by 2035, the US alone would still be pumping 3.5bn tons of ***net*** CO2 into the atmosphere. Let's not forget: pumping CO2 into the atmosphere makes things worse, not better.

      The bill is good, it's just not nearly good enough. If instead of asking the question "By how much are we reducing CO2 emissions" you ask the far more interesting question "Is the reduction enough to keep global warming bellow 1.5 ºC?", you get the sadly more disappointing answer "not even close".

      Also, not quite a catch, but a massive source of loopholes is the whole "net emissions" metric. We know it's already being abused, expect more of that.

      • MattyJ says:

        I think it would be hard to pass, much less to execute, some sort of law that cuts CO2 emissions in the US down to acceptable levels overnight. (Two years in legislative terms is overnight.) I'm not sure how we would replace all the gas cars with electrics, convert gas stations to charging stations, and close down all the coal mines in two years. You gotta start somewhere and build on it over time.

        As a world leader, the US has the opportunity/obligation to set an example. If this works then smaller, or even bigger, countries of the world have one less excuse not to act. Legislation like this isn't only about what the act actually does. It's also a PR campaign to the rest of the world that if someplace as big and disjointed (politically) as the US can do it, so can everyone else. (assuming we make progress in the next few years and don't faceplant it.)

        • Jay says:

          Don't get me wrong, this law passing is not just "as good as it can be reasonably expected", I believe it's far better than we could have asked for in the current political climate (which makes me wonder how easy/hard would it be for a highly motivated actor to revert or derail the whole thing).

          It's just that the catch, which is what Waider asked about, is that it's not a solution to AGW... and it's a f***ing big catch. We've been warned that a warming between 1.5 - 2 ºC will very likely trigger irreversible catastrophic changes to the global climate, and these types of policies (which are passing or being drafted in most of the Western block) aim for a warming just bellow 2.5 ºC.

          PS: IRA is neither a two year plan nor a two year of legislative effort. The plan has projections for 2030-2050, and it's been in the making for a long time (they mention how long in the video).

      • Adolf Osborne says:

        It's not enough, no.  But nothing can be enough without turning the US upside down in ways that make the upside-down of 2020, 2021, and much of 2022 (so far!) look like a flyspeck on the surface of a big picture of two important words:  "We're fucked."

        If we make the best corrective moves:  We're still fucked.

        If we don't make the corrective moves:  We're still fucked.

        We're going to be fucked.  In our lifetimes, the Great Fucking will occur.

        • Jim says:

          The Great Fucking is already here, it's just not evenly distributed.

        • MattyJ says:

          You have to tip the US over to the side a little bit before it can go upside down. This bill can do that. Then it's about momentum.

          The bill isn't just 'better than nothing', it's the catalyst that could start the machine to bring this thing home for humanity in the long run. Tired of reading all this pessimism about something that stands a chance of becoming an historic moment.

          • Jay says:

            I don't think reminding people that this is not enough is being "pessimistic", it's just being realistic. We know what the targets are, and we know we're not hitting them, not even close.

            You are right, though, you can't steer a 335M population so drastically, so fast. The problem is, we've run out of time. Sadly, we needed legislation like this about 20 years ago.

            Now, I'm not saying "we better do nothing". That's exactly the worst possible answer to the situation, the second worst being "we've done the best we could, let's call it a day". We're not going to get significantly closer to a real solution if we stop reminding people and politicians, even for one second, that this is far from enough.

            As for how historic of a moment this is, I don't think this is it. Even by the most optimistic estimates, the new policy will bring an absolute improvement of 15-18% with respect to current policy. Somebody feel free to fact check me on this but, if my sources don't fail me, the expectation is a net reduction (relative to 2005) of 41% by the 2030s (best case scenario) vs 24% with the current policy (worst case scenario). I truly hope we can get better plans before the end of the decade.

            • elm says:

              If you can't celebrate a win, then what's the point?

              • Jay says:

                Well, the point is saving human civilization as we understand it today. But by all means, celebrate victory... when and if we win.

                • elm says:

                  Every bit of better is better.

                  If you insist people working in the right direction be miserable and refuse to celebrate accomplishments, you'll find an endless supply of smug WellActually to dispense.

                  Maybe that's what you want. You do you.

                  Back in the real world, problems will need to be addressed, solved, triaged, and worked on forever. It kinda sucks. I'd love to think it can be -done- one day, but that's not reality.

                  There's always another thing, always more to be done.

                  • Dr. W. E. Coyote says:

                    'Better' is indeed better. But 'better' is not a reasonable definition of 'good'.

                    If avoiding the falling piano is good ('the goal') and four steps to the side are necessary to achieve this, making only two steps is better ('the right direction') than none, but it won't spare you any headaches.

                  • elm says:

                    @Dr. W. E. Coyote

                    Except a falling piano isn't the right analogy.

                    A falling piano lands in seconds.

                    A falling piano lands all at once.

                    Climate devastation is real and damaging and awful.

                    And partial measures push the probable time to each bad outcome further away in time.

                    I'm not saying it's enough.

                    I am saying that dismissing "better" as "not good enough" is unproductive rhetoric when you want people to pay attention and to work again.

                    There was never a chance that the US Senate was going to pass "good enough". That wasn't on the table. Performing disappointment about that is hollow and easy.

                • tfb says:

                  I can see it now.  The small band of heroes has, against all odds, held off the assault of a vast enemy horde.  The commander stands up to speak to the exhausted fighters.

                  I have to tell you that what you have done today is not good enough.  It is not even close to good enough.  Unless you do much more we will lose.  Almost certainly we have already lost.  There is not really any  hope.  Don't fool yourselves: the enemy will win, probably.  Perhaps you can celebrate one day, if by some unlikely chance we win.  But we won't.

                  As the sun rose the next morning the vast enemy horde, dispirited by their unexpected defeat the previous day begin tentatively to scout the territory held by the heroic few.  Reports come in that are so astonishing that the supreme leader has several hundred of his minions publically disembowelled before realising that the reports are true.  The band of heroes has vanished: deserted.  All that remains is their commander, impaled upon a stake.  The vast horde at once set to raping and feasting on the entrails of the civilians.

                  In another, slightly different world, the commander stand before the exhausted heroes

                  We shall go forward together. The road upwards is stony. There are upon our journey dark and dangerous valleys through which we have to make and fight our way. But it is sure and certain that if we persevere – and we shall persevere –we shall come through these dark and dangerous valleys into a sunlight broader and more genial and more lasting than we have ever known.

                  The story in this world ends quite differently.

                  • Jay says:

                    Sadly, that's just a story. Real life is not a story. Complacency is just as dangerous as defeatism. We need people declaring victory as much as we need people saying we shouldn't do anything. Just to be clear: not at all.

                  • Jim says:

                    Jamie, how could you not demoderate my awesome yet poorly formatted comment?

                  • Jim says:

                    Please see also:

  2. Dave says:

    Not sure the new electric car subsidies are an environmental positive.  It cancels the existing subsidies and rolls out new ones next year, but only if we develop an infrastructure for mining and manufacturing batteries and limits subsidies by car price and income.   I'm not a fan of helping rich people buying Teslas so I like the changes, but I could see where it might result in fewer new electric car sales.

    • MattyJ says:

      Each electric car on the road is a net gain for the environment, regardless of whether or not a rich person is driving it. How many people here realize that only about a quarter of the fuel you put in your car goes to actually propelling it forward? 60%-ish is burned off as excessive heat/pollution, with the other sliver powering your A/C, stereo, etc.

      The electric car market is nascent and does not have a healthy used car market yet, so cheaper EV's are not yet trickling down to normal everyday people. Also, Tesla being the dominant manufacturer so far, they could do whatever they want, including lying to us about starting with the expensive model to fund the everyday, middle-class model. But that's changing as more manufacturers are going electric.

      People don't realize that when the Model T came out prior to 1910 it was out of reach for most people, financially. It took a good decade with improvements to production and automation before the prices started coming down. It wasn't until around 15 years after its release, when Ford was able to manufacture a couple million of them a year, that it became the mass market juggernaut we know it for today (in today's dollars it cost around $5000 by 1925.)

      Give it time, we'll all be electric (or dead) before long.

      Yes, I recently bought an EV and I'm 100% on my high-horse.

      • Dave says:

        I think someone looking at $100,000 dollar EV is probably going to buy an EV regardless.  The money for their subsidy would be better spent with larger subsidies on Chevy Bolts.  That would put more EVs on the road.

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