The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) announced by Senators Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) and Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) in late July includes a boost to wind, solar and other clean energy. Includes $369 billion in tax incentives for Although a step in the right direction, this bill alone will not be enough to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. To get greater benefits more quickly, we need to remove carbon directly from the atmosphere.
We can start by looking at the oceans, which absorb over 90% of the heat produced by burning fossil fuels, the world’s largest carbon sink. Without the ocean, the average temperature of the earth he rises from 57 degrees to 122 degrees.
The United States has begun tackling maritime issues such as overfishing and pollution in its Exclusive Economic Zone, 200 nautical miles (230 miles) from the U.S. coastline. However, sea-level rise, seawater intrusion, ocean acidification, and other impacts of climate change are already threatening the ocean’s ability to capture carbon. For example, in 2019 scientists found that 95% of Northern California’s kelp forests were dead. This is due to a marine heat wave that has led to a surge in kelp-eating sea urchin populations.
Of course, the IRA benefits the oceans. Investing billions of dollars to accelerate the transition to green energy, including offshore wind power, will undoubtedly have knock-on effects for ocean health. It also includes provisions aimed more directly at coastal restoration. For example, her $2.6 billion in grants to state and tribal governments to help restore kelp beds, mangrove forests, salt marshes, and seagrass, each of which is essential for carbon sequestration.
In addition, the bill would allow cities to electrify ports and reduce air pollution for toxic industrial land “fenceline neighbors” who tend to be low-income communities of color, $3 billion. I have a dollar. In addition, more than $700 million will go toward new funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to improve its work on climate and atmospheric predictions.
Despite these aggressive investments, Manchin argued that the bill contained concessions to the oil and gas industry. Key among these facilities is that the U.S. Department of the Interior must lease at least 60 million acres of offshore waters each year for fossil fuel drilling in areas that include the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska before allowing offshore wind leasing. It is a rule that it should not. Still, this might not be as bad as it sounds. While the offshore wind industry is booming, the oil industry has shown little interest in new offshore drilling.
In reality, the IRA could be the largest investment in climate policy in US history to date, putting the US back in the game as the global leader in climate change. However, it will still be less than you need.
To more fully address the climate crisis, President Joe Biden could also deliver on his promise to create a National Ocean Climate Action Plan. This will help maximize the federal government’s efforts to ensure that the high seas contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and will also help local communities avoid the increasing climate impacts that are already hitting our coasts. It also helps buffer society.
The good news is that the tide seems to be finally turning.
David Helvarg is executive director of the marine conservation group Blue Frontier and co-host of the Rising Tide Ocean podcast. Jason Scorse is Director of the Blue Economy Center at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. This column is produced by Progressive Perspectives, produced by The Progressive magazine and distributed by the Tribune News Service.
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