Author: Carla W

USE THE NEW CLIMATE LAW TO DECARBONIZE!

In August, President Biden signed the biggest climate law in U.S. history–the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Incentives in this law will make electrifying and decarbonizing your household a lot cheaper. REWIRING AMERICA has created a savings calculator which shows how you can use the new climate law to electrify, shift to clean energy, and make your home more energy-efficient. (This action will take less than 5 minutes!)

Use Savings Calculator to find your clean energy incentives!

USE CALCULATOR

Why this action is important: The IRA’s provisions are aimed at speeding the U.S. clean energy transition, lowering household energy costs, saving lives, and creating good-paying jobs. Starting in 2023, Americans will be eligible for many new incentives for electric appliances, energy-saving products, and more. Some incentives benefit renters, and some are available now. To use the incentives, which will save you money, lower your carbon footprint, and improve your health and comfort, you have to know about them!

 

Clean energy has a tipping point, and 87 countries have reached it

Tom Randall – Bloomberg Green, 10/18/22

How fast is the world switching to renewables? 87 countries now draw at least 5% of their electricity from renewables. The U.S hit 5% in 2011 and surged past 20% renewable electricity last year. Bloomberg Green has identified tipping points for 10 clean-energy technologies, and analyzed which countries have crossed these thresholds and how quickly their markets have expanded once they were reached.

 

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The many incentives for homeowners in the Inflation Reduction Act

Brian Lips – DSIREinsight 8/29/22

The Inflation Reduction Act represents the largest ever investment by the federal government in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and EVs. This article focuses on the provisions of the bill that target the residential sector. The many incentives for homeowners in the Inflation Reduction Act includes a variety of tax credits that can help homeowners decarbonize, electrify, and save money, as shown in the table below. (Additional incentive programs will also be made available through state energy offices using targeted appropriations from the bill.) To learn more, click on the button for a link to the full article.

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Rewiring America’s Inflation Reduction Act Tools

Rewiring America has been at the forefront of developing tools and information on the Inflation Reduction Act’s provisions and how to use them to decarbonize and electrify. Here they are:

Rewiring America Savings Calculator
This tool is designed to let you fill in some information and calculate which provisions of the IRA apply to you and how you can save money to decarbonize.

Go Electric! Guide to the IRA. Everything you need to know to start your IRA-supported electric journey including case studies and a personal plan page.

Electric Potential maps and fact sheets for your state and congressional district. Enter your location to learn the IRA community and household benefits as well as updated energy bill savings estimates based on current fuel prices to help you understand how much your community stands to benefit from electrification.

Rewiring America’s IRA Disadvantaged Communities Provisions Report explains the $60 billion of investments for disadvantaged communities in the IRA.

Better late than never! My thoughts on the Inflation Reduction Act

Ever since August 16th, when President Biden signed the biggest climate bill in U.S. history into law, I’ve been considering what to say. So let me start with this: I’m amazed, grateful, and relieved. Why did it take me so long to post this? I was so stunned by this bill’s unlikely passage, and by how much major climate policy is contained in it, that it took me some time to digest this turn of events. I’ve spent ten years working for the passage of a national climate law of this scope and scale. I needed a moment to absorb this success, however imperfect. Then there’s the challenge of trying to summarize this bill–all 273 pages of it. How do I write something that does this moment justice?

You may know that I had given up. I wrote on this blog in January that “the odds of major climate policy being enacted by Congress in 2022 appear minuscule.” It feels like a miracle that the climate policies in this law somehow came back from the dead, like Wesley in the Princess Bride. (The climate provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), crafted through years of collaboration, planning, persuasion, and compromise, were declared dead earlier this summer when Senator Manchin said he would not support them.)

Much has been written about how this bill was resurrected, and the concessions that were made. The fact remains that the IRA contains the largest and most consequential measures–by far–to reduce U.S. climate pollution in our country’s history. I am grateful to every person who worked for climate action, went to meetings, lobbied, protested, contacted their elected officials; each of us contributed to the passage of this law. I believe it marks the beginning of serious climate action by the U.S. government.

I’m guessing you may not realize the size of this win for the climate. I think we in the climate movement are so inexperienced with success that we don’t know how to respond when we make real progress. I know some climate activists are disappointed or angry at the concessions that were made, and I understand. But if you’re alarmed about the climate crisis, I suggest you take a moment to savor the potentially transformative impacts of this law.

Robinson Meyer writing for The Atlantic put it this way:
“On Tuesday, President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. It is no exaggeration to say that his signature immediately severed the history of climate change in America into two eras. Before the IRA, climate campaigners spent decades trying and failing to get a climate bill through the Senate. After it, the federal government will spend $374 billion on clean energy and climate resilience over the next 10 years. The bill is estimated to reduce the country’s greenhouse-gas emissions by about 40 percent below their all-time high, getting the country two-thirds of the way to meeting its 2030 goal under the Paris Agreement.”

I won’t try to provide all the details of the law–there are just too many. A few of the highest impact climate incentives in the law include:
Extension of production and investment tax credits for clean electricity projects for 10 years
Tax credits and incentives for EV purchases, including used EVs
Tax credits for installing heat pumps, rebates for home retrofits, and financing for electrification of buildings

Other provisions include a fee for methane leakage, tax credits for carbon sequestration, and funding for environmental justice for disadvantaged communities, a green bank, climate-friendly agriculture, forestry, and conservation programs.

If you want to dig deeper into all that the IRA does, I have several suggested sources. Energy expert Dana Nuccitelli summarizes how the law’s provisions are expected to produce emissions reductions in Yale Climate Connections. The New York Times provides a good overview of the law’s provisions and impacts as well. If you prefer videos, Hank Green does a great job summarizing what the law does in this 22 minute YouTube “The Biggest Climate Bill of Your Life – But What Does it DO!?

Climate experts agree this law will matter, but the size of it’s impact will depend on how it’s enacted, and how people and businesses respond. I’m excited to say that I’ve created a page on our website and have begun gathering resources and information there on how the IRA can be leveraged to decarbonize your home, car, community, and state. The page will continue to expand for you to use and share.

Meanwhile, I hope you are taking a moment to celebrate, as I am. Next I’ll begin exploring what provisions in the law can help you contribute to a healthier, safer, more just and livable future.

The magic of talking

I’m going to suggest you do something that it took me years to do myself: talk about the climate crisis. If it’s something you care about, if it’s on your mind, if you are taking action, if you are worried about the future or excited about some new climate initiative, bring it up.  Dr. Katherine Hayhoe, one of the world’s top climate scientists, says talking about it is the most important thing you can do to fight climate change, and I agree. But it can be hard to get started, so I’m going to lay out her argument here to inspire you, and suggest that you might be surprised how people respond (in a good way).

The first time I spoke up to a stranger about my climate work, I remember exactly where I was, and that I’d been doing climate advocacy for many years by then. I’m conflict avoidant, and I think I was afraid of eliciting a negative reaction. And I’m not alone: according to the most recent polling data from the Yale Climate Communication program, global warming is important to 71% of Americans, yet 61% say they rarely or never talk about it!

It’s vital that we speak up. In her new book Saving Us, Dr. Hayhoe asks, “What do we talk about? Things we care about…(our speech) displays what we are thinking about to others, which in turn connects us to their minds and thoughts. So if we don’t talk about climate change, why would anyone around us know we care—or begin to care themselves if they don’t already? And if they don’t care, why would they act?”

Speaking about climate signals to those in our communities that climate change matters, and this has incredible ripple effects. Conversely, studies have shown that self-silencing on climate leads us to consistently underestimate how much others care about climate change, and the more we underestimate other people’s climate worries, the more hopeless we feel. Speaking up breaks this cycle, empowering us to feel we can make a difference because we are not alone.

Another way to understand the power of talking about climate change is to remember that we are social creatures, influenced in a million large and small ways by our friends, families, and communities. Each time you talk about caring and acting on climate, you are sending a signal that encourages others in your social network to care and act. For example, someone is more likely to install solar panels on their home if others in their neighborhood have already installed them. This isn’t just because the panels are visible, it’s also because neighbors talk to each other about why they went solar, the installation process, and the benefits.

How do you start, and what might you say? Dr. Hayhoe suggests simply sharing personal stories about your concerns, experiences, and actions. She says, “What do people pay attention to most? In general, we tend to favor personal stories and experiences over reams of data or facts. In fact, when you hear a story, neuroscientists have found, your brain waves start to synchronize with those of the storyteller. Your emotions follow. And that’s how change happens.”

For my part, I believe that any kind of talking is a good start. Things I’ve recently been chatting about include the electric barbecue we just got because we are working on electrifying our home, my worries about the coming fire season, and the Banking on our Future Pledge I signed to support banks that do not invest in fossil fuel expansion.

One reason we self-silence about global warming is that we are afraid of a negative reaction. In my experience, this fear is largely unfounded. As long as I avoid preaching and instead talk about my own concerns or actions, people react positively. Often, they seem to feel heartened that they are not alone in their climate worries. The first time I spoke up to someone I barely knew about my climate advocacy work, she looked back at me and said, good for you! At the time I felt liberated to finally be open. Now I look back on that moment and imagine that I may have played a small part in nudging her toward becoming more engaged in climate action. It certainly didn’t hurt.

BANKING ON OUR FUTURE!

Four big banks–Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, and Wells Fargo–are playing a key role in financing the climate crisis by supporting new oil, gas and coal projects. But these banks rely on their credit card and banking customers like you to stay in business. By signing the Banking on our Future pledge, you’re asking these banks to stop funding climate chaos by the end of 2022, or you will cut up your credit card and move your money with them. If you don’t bank there now, you pledge you won’t do so in the future.

TAKE THE PLEDGE!

To learn more about this action and why it’s important, here is a 3-minute video from THIRD ACT: Banking on Our Future

Why this action is so important: Last year, the International Energy Agency stated that in order to meet the Paris climate targets there can be no new investments in oil, gas, or coal, starting immediately. Yet since the climate accords were signed, Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo and Bank of America have loaned the fossil fuel industry a trillion dollars with no plans to stop. We, as their customers, have the ability to convince them to do the right thing for all our our futures.

Once you’ve signed the pledge, here are two next steps you can take to amplify the impact of this action:

First, If you do have a credit card with Chase, Citicard, Bank of America, or Wells Fargo, apply for a new credit card with a better bank now. That way, you’ll be able to switch cards at the end of 2022 should it be necessary. To find a good option, use Green America’s list of credit cards issued from banks that don’t lend to fossil fuel companies.

Second, share the Banking on our Future pledge with your network! Third Act has a Banking on our Future Page on their website with all the resources you need to learn about the action and share with others.

TAKE THE PLEDGE!

Additional Resources:

An overview of the connection between financial institutions and the climate crisis, from the New Yorker

Bank.green, a tool allowing you to check your bank’s fossil fuel financing record.

Green America’s List of fossil fuel-free credit cards.

ELECTRIFY YOUR HOME!

Perhaps the most high-impact personal climate action you can take is to electrify the machines that you use in your daily life. Forty percent of U.S. electricity already comes from carbon-free sources, and this percentage is growing rapidly each year. Electric motors are more efficient than fossil fuel-fed motors, and emit no pollutants when in use. Climate experts all agree that every path to a renewable energy future and a safe climate relies on electrifying everything we can as soon as we can.

This month’s action is to take a step toward electrifying your home. The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) added a host of new incentives to help people of all income levels and living situations electrify and decarbonize. Rewiring America is providing excellent tools for people to take advantage of these provisions and to electrify. There are two actions to choose from, both from Rewiring America:

ACTION ONE: Take Rewiring America’s #Electrify Everything Pledge! You provide your email and they will send you great guidance on how to electrify you home, and the latest electrification updates, which are all free.

TAKE THE ELECTRIFY PLEDGE!

ACTION TWO: Find your incentives with the IRA Savings Calculator! Plug in your zip code, household size and income, and a few other details and this tool shows you all the money you can get from the Inflation Reduction Act to electrify, increase energy efficiency, and decarbonize.

IRA SAVINGS CALCULATOR

If you’d like to learn more about the Inflation Reduction Act and the vital role of electrification in climate action, below are links to some additional resources:

The Electric Explainer: Key programs programs in the Inflation Reduction Act and what they mean for Americans, Rewriting America Policy Hub

The Biggest Climate Bill of your Life – But What does it DO!? 22-minute video from Hank Green (it’s long but it’s the best and most entertaining explanation of the new climate bill I’ve seen!)

Most fossil fuel energy is wasted–New analysis shows how to fix this!  Power Up for Climate Solutions blog, August 28, 2020

One Billion Machines that will Electrify America 12-minute video from Saul Griffith

What’s next for Power Up for Climate Solutions

In 2022, Power Up for Climate Solutions will be providing resources for decarbonizing at home and in your community, and building resilience in the face of growing climate instability. We will be placing less emphasis on national and international climate policy action. The reasons for this shift are explained below, and we hope you will find our new direction useful in this time of growing accessibility of clean energy techologies and increasingly catastrophic and frequent climate disasters.

The world has changed dramatically in the last few years. Three truths about the moment we live in inspire our new focus on direct decarbonization and building resilience.

First, technological and economic barriers to a clean energy transition have lowered dramatically for Americans in middle and higher income brackets. The speed of technological and economic changes in clean energy has outpaced even optimistic predictions, and as a result, decarbonizing home energy and transportation is feasible at a personal and local scale for many of us. The impacts of climate change fall most heavily on those least responsible, harming the most vulnerable among us. We will be encouraging those who have some privilege to begin decarbonizing or to help others afford to do so.

Renewable resources generated only 19 percent of US electricity in 2020, but climate experts and modelers increasingly contend that a 100 percent renewable energy grid by 2050 is “not only feasible but can be done without any blackouts and at a lower cost than the existing grid” (Nikita Amir, “The US could reliably run on clean energy by 2050”). We will be providing tools for you to contribute to this transition.

Second, the climate crisis is here now. The speed of warming and the magnitude of climate-fueled disasters has touched everyone I know in recent years. In 2021 alone, the US experienced twenty major weather disasters as defined by NOAA. These included the February winter storms causing the power grid in Texas to fail; a severe and widespread drought in the West; the Bootleg and Dixie fires in California, so bad they generated their own weather; Hurricane Ida; the historic and deadly heat dome centered over Oregon, Washington, and Canada; and the Midwest derecho and tornado outbreak in December with more than fifty tornados. The imperative to strengthen our resilience in our homes, our food systems, and our communities to deal with climate instability is urgent.

Third, our political system has failed to head off a worsening climate crisis that threatens everything we need to survive and thrive. As Ezra Klein succinctly observed, “Decades of climate activism have gotten millions of people into the streets but they haven’t turned the tide on emissions, or even investments.” National politics in the US are more toxic and our culture is more divided than at any other time in my lifetime; the odds of major climate policy being enacted by Congress in 2022 appear minuscule. I believe the biggest opportunities for climate progress right now are in other arenas.

The resources we will be sharing will offer ways to contribute to the clean energy transition and guidance for building resilience at home and in your community. Examples may include individual, community, and business clean energy programs; regenerative agriculture; clean electrification resources; electric vehicle information; information on divestment from fossil fuel companies; and climate resilience resources. I hope that the resources and ideas we share will provide support and allow you to find ways to contribute to a clean energy transition, become more resilient in your home and your community, and help create a safer, more peaceful, more equitable world.