Opinion: Working together to restore our future

Life is definitely full of surprises. Some are so good, you find that $10 in your winter coat! Others, not so much, like when the credit card bill arrives… This week was more of a shock than a surprise to me, when I first read about the Senate passing the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)! Just when our country seemed polarized and paralyzed, did people meet the concessions to get something important done.

I spend a lot of time thinking about my children and the world they will inherit. That is why I was so happy to see this huge investment ($369 billion) in low carbon technologies; By 2030, we will be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 2005 levels. This is important because, despite decades of warnings from scientists, we have continued to release those greenhouse gas emissions. Periods of drought increase, floods increase, and storms intensify.

With this legislation, the United States will finally take steps to plan for a better future while reducing floods, wildfires, and devastating storms. And in the process, we will remove the air pollution that affects millions of Americans and does billions of dollars in damage to our economy.

To achieve these goals, the IRA will provide tax credits over the next ten years for the development and deployment of renewable energy. The money will also be used to help families increase energy efficiency and replace gas-powered appliances with electric ones, such as heat pumps and induction stoves. Middle- and low-income Americans will also be eligible for tax credits to help them purchase electric vehicles, reducing carbon emissions and unhealthy air pollution from conventional cars and trucks.

Incentives in this legislation will provide an economic opportunity here at Pine Belt by increasing demand for car sales, solar panel installation, and electric power companies in general.

Another important piece of the IRA is methane gas leak repair. Methane is the primary contributor to the warming of our planet, and is several times more powerful than carbon dioxide. About $60 billion will also be used for environmental sanitation programs in the low-income communities most affected by flooding and pollution.

Our largest trading partners, Canada and the European Union, have already taken major steps to reduce emissions while leaving us Americans behind. Sometimes we seem too busy arguing to get something done! This legislation will help restore American leadership by cutting emissions in a fair and intelligent way, reducing the budget deficit by more than $300 billion. While inflation was expected to rise by as little as 0.025% in the first two years, by the end of the decade price levels will fall by 0.25% more aggressively. We hope our example will inspire other countries to follow suit.

More work is needed if we’re really going to avoid the worst consequences of global warming, but for now I’m excited about passing this legislation. It might help my family to finally get these solar panels and take advantage of all that free energy bouncing off our rooftops. But it also brings hope that we can get back to working together to come up with solutions, and leave our children as good a chance to thrive as we got them.

Chris Whirl of Lamar County is Mississippi’s Coordinator of Citizen Climate Education. Write it down at [email protected]

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