The Inflation Reduction Act: A Step in the Right Direction

Written by: Li 

Edited by: Noor

Visual by: Kahyun

With the global pandemic, certain conflicts and a number of important social movements that have taken place over the past two years, the state of our environment has fallen on the back burner. However, this year may be one of the most crucial when it comes to taking action. According to Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations (UN), “2022 is all about shifting into what the [UN] Secretary-General has called ’emergency mode’.” In other words, we need to focus. 

Scientists predict that the global temperature will increase by 1.5°C in the next five years and will surpass the target goal of the Paris Agreement — a contract for countries to take action against climate change and reduce CO2 emissions in order to limit the effects of global warming. According to Mr. Taalas at the World Meteorological Organization, “The 1.5°C figure is not some random statistic, but rather an indicator of the point at which climate impacts will become increasingly harmful for people and indeed the entire planet.” 

As a step towards a greener world, US President Joe Biden recently signed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), a climate change act that will provide tax incentives for investments in clean energy. Despite having quite a few benefits, the IRA also presents some disadvantages. Firstly, the goal for carbon emission reduction stipulated in the Act is less than what Biden originally committed to in the Paris Agreement. Additionally, it does not help provide the materials needed for new clean energy technologies, nor does it overcome the challenges of connecting said clean energy sources to electrical networks already in place. What it does do, however, is provide tax incentives for investments in clean energy and support a wide range of renewable energy sources such as nuclear power. It also puts the US on a path to reduce its peak emission levels by nearly 40% by 2030. So although the Act has its downsides, it is important to take every action in addressing such a pressing issue like that of climate change. 

Additionally, there is a significant amount of evidence to support that the IRA could truly make a difference, both when it comes to the climate crisis and also in the lives of many American citizens. As an example, increased electrification from the Act could help people save up to $1,800 in annual costs for gasoline and utility bills. Moreover, according to Energy Innovation, a “non-partisan energy and climate policy think tank,”  approximately 1.5 million new jobs in areas like construction, manufacturing and service would be created by 2030 as a result of this new initiative. Finally, the reduction in carbon emissions would result in cleaner air, which could save up to 3,900 more lives annually. 

Countries around the world may also benefit from the bill as it can provide them with a template to achieve their own emission reduction goals and, according to writers at CAP, “a strong U.S. position at the climate conference is critical to build on the ambition of the Glasgow Climate Pact and keep the 1.5 degree goal alive.” 

Even still, there are many people who believe that this Act is a fruitless effort to reduce the USA’s contribution to global warming: Bjorn Lomborg, The President of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, says that the Act will “reduce the rise in global temperature by a grand total of 0.0009 degrees. That’s next to nothing.” Marc Theissen at the Washington Post claimed that “The bill does no more to reduce global temperatures than it does to reduce inflation. Instead, it’s a $369 billion exercise in virtue signaling, wasteful spending and base mobilization in advance of the 2022 midterms.” 

Although it is true that Biden needs to do much more than sign a piece of paper, Theissen’s article loses some of its merit when you begin to pick out the political bias strewn throughout the piece; it suggests that some of the criticism towards the IRA may not actually come from concern for our environment, but rather a dislike of the opposing political party. The language he uses when referring to the President and the Democratic party carries negative connotations. Theissen calls Democratic supporters Biden’s “climate-obsessed base” and writes that he hopes the bill’s failure will make Democrats “pay a price at the polls.” But this constant back and forth between the binary system that the US government has become is exhausting, and should not be impacting how people see an issue that is life threatening for the entire planet. 

In closing, while there are shortcomings of the Act, it is a step in the right direction in terms of climate action. It is, however, not enough for us to rely on government policies forever. If we, the whole world, want to truly make a difference and save the planet, we must do more and do better; because those in power have proven time and time again that they won’t. So, take a minute to reflect on your habits, your lifestyle, and determine what you can do to help. Although it may not seem like it, and although it can be very overwhelming, doing what you can do is always better than doing nothing: As Susan Cooper says, “In the end, all it takes is one small action, by one person. One at a time.”

Works Cited

“5 Major Benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act’s Climate Investments.” Center for American Progress,

“Home.” Energy Innovation: Policy and Technology, Accessed 29 Aug. 2022.

“How the Inflation Reduction Act Will Drive Global Climate Action.” Center for American Progress,

“Opinion | the Inflation Reduction Act Won’t Reduce Inflation. Or Climate Change.” Washington Post,

“Wilson Center Expert Analysis of the Inflation Reduction Act | Wilson Center.”, Accessed 28 Aug. 2022.