After a year-long struggle, a name change (remember Build Back Better?), certain death and then a Phoenix-like rise, the United States Senate passed the vastly slimmed down Inflation Reduction Act on a party-line vote (all Democrats for, all Republicans against). Its centerpiece is $369 billion in climate investments (and it must be said, additional fossil fuel investments). Other key provisions include enhancements to Obamacare, a new ability for medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, and a minimum corporate tax. The House followed suit, again without a single Republican vote.
And then on Tuesday, President Biden applied his signature and the bill had finally become law.
“This bill is the biggest step forward on climate ever,” declared Biden at Tuesday’s signing ceremony.
Now, we can’t simply take Biden’s word for it. How big is that step, really? Will we reach the law’s carbon emissions reduction target of 40 percent by 2030 (versus 2005 baseline)? How will sports be affected by the new law? And how can the sports world, especially athletes, help to amplify the law in ways that accelerate progress towards the targets and thus the #ClimateComeback?
GreenSportsBlog spoke with leading lights from various corners of the Green-Sports world and beyond to get their takes on the Inflation Reduction Act.
Climate scientist, distinguished professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania, and the first director of Penn’s new Center for Science, Sustainability, and the Media. He also is a member of the EcoAthletes advisory board.
“The nearly half trillion dollars to be invested in climate and clean energy provisions represents the most aggressive climate investment ever taken by Congress. THIS IS A BIG DEAL¹! …Estimates by policy experts suggest this bill will put the U.S. on a path to reduce carbon emissions by almost 40 percent by 2030 (versus the 2005 baseline), a critical step forward in tackling the climate crisis but it’s not yet quite enough. We need at least 50 percent in reductions by 2030 to be on a path to avoiding dangerous 3°F planetary warming.”
“On the other hand, the commitment to building new gas pipelines and invest in new fossil fuel infrastructure is a step backward. It’s difficult to reconcile a promise to decarbonize our economy with a commitment to new fossil fuel infrastructure. The International Energy Agency has said this is incompatible w/ the goal of stabilizing warming below a dangerous 3°F…We still have a conservative Supreme Court that has blocked executive actions to address the climate crisis. That will continue to be a problem until the Court is expanded, something that can only happen if Democrats increase their majority in the senate in the upcoming midterms elections.”
…This really is a BIG DEAL!
“This is a big step forward, restoring U.S. leadership on this issue, critical to getting countries like India and China to do their part, which is necessary for meaningful global action on climate. But much more work to be done. More aggressive climate policy will require massive turnout by progressives in the mid-term elections to ensure a larger Democratic majority, since only one party seems interested in addressing the defining crisis of our time.”
CEO and founder of GreenGear Supply, the company that creates eco-friendly products for events, including sports. Their first product is the carbon-negative Eco-Rain Poncho. Early customers include the Philadelphia Eagles, Grand Canyon National Park and Duke University Bookstore.
Good for Green Business
“The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act is exciting progress in the fight against climate change. We’re excited about the potential for this act to help support GreenGear’s mission. We will be exploring how we can work with the specific provisions of this act, but in general, I see it potentially helping us in three main ways:
- Transitioning our entire supply chain to renewable energy. Right now parts of the supply chain are there, but it would be great to be 100 percent!,
- Provide ‘green jobs’ in underserved communities across the U.S. and,
- Help us grow through support of environmentally-conscious small businesses, like ours.”
Monika Dharia (Photo credit: GreenGear Supply)
Olympic, Commonwealth Games and World Athletics Championships race walker for Australia, EcoAthletes Champion, climate activist and a keen observer of the political scene, including in the United States.
Good climate policy is good for the economy…
“While I’d like things to go further, be better, and move faster, to give us what the scientific evidence suggests is the best chance of avoiding further warming (aka catastrophe), it’s great that concrete things are happening after years of delay, denial and backsliding in the United States and Australia (a new was passed Down Under earlier this month!)…In both countries it is promising to see that the conversation has been able to move from climate action being viewed as solely a cost, to something that is a benefit — that saves money for consumers, provides good jobs, and helps create a healthier environment for us all to live in (both in terms of climate and things like clean air in cities). Perhaps the inflation reduction framing was one of the tipping points that helped get Joe Manchin over the line in spite of the large amount of fossil fuel donations he receives.
Athletes Can Play an Important Role…
“Athletes can bring the discussion of the benefits brought by these pieces of legislation into everyday conversation, to engage and bring on board people who otherwise wouldn’t think about it. Whether that’s through their own social media channels, community and fan outreach, or in partnership with broadcasters, talking about and repeating the message is important for it to have maximal reach and opportunity to sink in.”
What Individual Athletes Can Do…
“Talk to other athletes in your sport, or country, about how climate change impacts your sport, family and so forth. It’s not a common topic of conversation, but surveys from sports bodies like World Athletics have found that over 70 percent of athletes are concerned about climate change and its impacts. Talking about it, discussing what actions you’re doing and what others can do, is a way to stack up actions to have a collective impact. It needs to be a team effort, and talking to others can give you ideas about how to do even more on your personal front.
Sophomore rower at the University of Virginia, leader of the UVA’s Green Athletics organization, EcoAthletes Champion
A Good First Step…
“I’m happy to see our political leaders taking formal action on the climate crisis. With an issue as substantial and systemic as this, words are not enough. To enact the kind of large-scale change necessary, our government needs to mandate more climate-conscious behavior. The climate provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act are a great first step. I hope politicians treat this move as an inspiration for further action.”
Sports Needs to Lead on Future Steps…
“The sports world, from the local to the global, is a resource-intensive industry. Athletic organizations can support sustainability by better managing their climate footprint. In addition, by nature of their social prominence, athletes can raise awareness on climate change, promote culture in favor of climate action, and champion sustainable behaviors.”
Dr. Eban Goodstein
Director, Bard Graduate Programs in Sustainability
Stadiums and Arenas Can Be High Profile Examples of the IRA’s Positive Impacts…
“I can see how the investments in electric mobility and renewable energy will have real impacts in sports. Imagine parking lots at stadiums and arenas filled with large numbers of EV charging stations — right now the numbers are very small — and on-site storage batteries connecting to on-site solar arrays, delivering cleanly generated electricity to power those venues. But, the Inflation Reduction Act is just the beginning. We will need athletes to both endorse climate-forward products as well as services and to use their sizable social capital to urge their fans to take climate action.”
Dr. Eban Goodstein (Photo credit: Bard College)
¹ President Barack Obama agrees with Dr. Mann, tweeting to his former VP after the signing that this was a “#BFD” as in a Big F-ing Deal. That harkens back to when Vice President Biden famously said the exact same thing to President Obama — and a hot mic picket it up — when Obamacare was signed into law in March 2010.
Photo at top: President Biden signs the Inflation Reduction Act on August 16, flanked by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York (l) and Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina (Photo credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)