A few minutes every morning is all you need.
Stay up to date on the world's Headlines and Human Stories. It's fun, it's factual, it's fluff-free.
If the BIF is focused on building out the infrastructure for the US to transition to more sustainable energy source alternatives, then you can think of the reconciliation bill as being focused on convincing the nation to make the switch.
What’s the infrastructure plan?
- The infrastructure plan is technically made up of two different bills. The first one is a US$1 trillion bill that will expand “hard” infrastructure across the country, which is things like roads and bridges and broadband internet in rural areas.
- This one is being called the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF) because a bipartisan group of legislators agreed on the framework for this bill.
- The second bill was originally US$3.5 trillion, but it’s being negotiated and will probably end up being a lower price tag. It’s much broader, though, and includes plans to expand “soft” infrastructure, such as universal preschool and tax exemptions for people in elder care.
- A pretty big chunk of this bill will also be dedicated to combating and dealing with climate change.
- This one doesn’t have bipartisan support, so it’s being called the reconciliation bill, which means that it’s sidestepping things that typically hold up Congress.
- And, as of right now, neither of these bills have passed, but they’re being negotiated in Congress.
What’s the climate part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework?
- Bills like this are typically set up to put aside some money for specific projects. This money will then go to the states so that they can implement those projects. We can’t understand the full climate impact now because we don’t know how exactly states will use the money. But, this is what we do know.
- One thing the BIF addresses is the power grid, which doesn’t work well with renewable energy sources right now. Because renewable energy comes mainly from intermittent sources like wind and solar, sometimes it’s necessary to move electricity long distances to get to other places where, for example, the sun isn’t shining, and the wind isn’t blowing.
- This requires high voltage power lines because you lose a lot of the energy just transferring power without it. So this is the part of the power line that the BIF would fund.
- Another big portion of this bill involves dedicating US$7.5 billion into building a nationwide network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, which would make it easier to have an EV for many Americans.
- There are also minor provisions in the bill, like funding zero- and low-emission public transportation and funding programs to reduce highway carbon emissions.
- Overall, the point of the bill isn’t really to turn the US into a carbon-neutral country overnight but to lay the infrastructural groundwork for the transition down the road.
What’s the climate part of the reconciliation bill?
- If the BIF is focused on building out the infrastructure for the US to transition to more sustainable energy source alternatives, then you can think of the reconciliation bill as being focused on convincing the nation to make the switch.
- The main goals of this part of the bill are to reduce total emissions by 50% and transition the power grid to get 80% of its power from renewable sources by 2030.
- One of the things that the bill would also trigger is a new set of polluter fees on nonrenewable sources of energy like oil or coal.
- It will also provide things like incentives for companies that use clean energy for their manufacturing and transportation processes.
- But in addition to reducing climate impact, this part also would help fund programs that help mitigate natural disasters like wildfires and hurricanes, which are becoming more frequent with climate change.
Is it enough?
- Well, scientists think that we basically have 10 years as a planet to try to mitigate climate change and global warming, or these natural disasters are going to keep getting significantly worse.
- In a United Nations climate report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that humans “unequivocally” cause the warming of the planet and that there’s a limited amount of time to fix it.
- And according to Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry, the upcoming climate conference in Glasgow will be “the last best chance the world has to avoid climate crisis.”
- If the US passes this bill before that conference, it will be better positioned to ask other countries to do more themselves to help the climate.
- Well, first, all of this stuff has to actually pass through Congress, which as of right now looks a little more likely with the first one, but neither is a given.
- Once they are, there’s still the long step of waiting to see exactly how states use their funding for different projects, which will give us a better idea of how much it helps or hurts the climate.
- What is clear, though, is that if this passes, it puts the US in a competitive position globally regarding climate provisions.
- For example, China has really upped its game recently in addressing and responding to the global climate crisis, with nationwide power cuts, which have eaten into its economic growth, as well as an all-out ban on crypto services and mining, which are notoriously power consuming.
- Overall, though, this will take time. And, since these bills are meant to fund measures for the next 10 years, we won’t have a clear idea anytime soon on how much these measures will help for some time. What is clear though is that much needs to explored on how renewable energy can help with climate change.