Al Gore on the Inflation Reduction Act: ‘It took so long’

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Hello and welcome to The Climate 202! Today is a big day for climate policy: President Biden will sign the Inflation Reduction Act in law at the White House. We caught up with a former vice president to understand the significance of this moment:

Al Gore never thought it would take this long to pass a big climate bill

In 1981, as a young legislator, former vice-president Al Gore held what some experts believe is the first congressional hearing on climate change.

In the mid-2000s, Gore continued to sound the alarm about the dangers of rising global temperatures. He appeared in the 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” and shared the 2007 Nobel Prize of Peace with climatologists for their efforts to raise awareness of this problem.

Despite Gore’s tireless crusade, the United States — which emitted more greenhouse gases than any other country – has always lacked a global climate law. But now, more than four decades after Congress was first warned about the climate crisis, that is finally about to change.

President Biden tuesday will sign the law Inflation Reduction Act, which authorizes the largest explosion of expenditure in the history of the United States to fight against global warming. The Senate passed the landmark legislation on Aug. 7, and the House followed suit on Friday.

The Climate 202 spoke by phone with Gore about his views on the climate package and his work to train a new generation of activists. The following interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity:

Climate 202: What were you doing last Sunday when the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act, and what was your first reaction?

Blood: Well I was glued to C-LIFE, and I was calling and texting with different senators. And I was thrilled when the result came. This legislation is a game changer. It will create jobs, reduce costs, increase America’s competitiveness, reduce air pollution and, of course, fight the climate crisis. We have crossed a major threshold, and this is going to have significant impacts on international climate action, particularly with regard to COP27 this month of November.

Climate 202: You held the first congressional hearings on climate change in the 1980s. Did you ever think it would take this long to pass major climate legislation?

Blood: I thought it would happen much sooner than that. I never expected to dedicate my life to this. And I didn’t expect the struggle to pass this kind of legislation. It took time.

Climate 202: Historically, why has it been so difficult to get climate legislation through the Senate? Do you point to specific factors such as filibuster, Republican opposition, or lobbying by fossil fuel industry groups?

Blood: Well, the quality of our democracy has been redeemed by the passage of this bill, but we shouldn’t kid ourselves that our democracy hasn’t been seriously degraded. So yes, I would advocate eliminating the filibuster, changing the practice of electoral districts to make our country more divided and more partisan, and reducing the influence of the big bucks in our politics.

But the capacity of the fossil fuel industry and its lobbyists to stop climate action has been exceeded, at least in this case. And I think it will spark so much momentum that we will never go back.

Climate 202: The climate package reflects certain compromises with Senator Joe Manchin III (DW.Va.) on provisions that will benefit the fossil fuel industry. Given the nature of our political system, is this bill the best we could hope for?

Blood: The trade-offs in this bill are actually quite minor. If you look at the legislation from the perspective of carbon reductions, the few provisions that I would certainly have opposed are extremely minor in terms of carbon compared to the massive advances in the bulk of the legislation. It was a tremendous achievement.

Climate 202: You run the Climate Reality Project, which trains people to become climate activists and leaders. What’s next for you and the band?

Blood: This week, I am training 6,700 new climate activists in Brazil. We are weeks away from elections in Brazil, when we have the chance to transition to a pro-climate government. And of course, Australia has just passed its first major climate legislation following its recent climate elections.

So we have a lot of momentum. But the hardest part is yet to come. We still have a lot of work to do.

Infrastructure funds to nearly double zero-emission buses on the road

The Infrastructure Act is set to nearly double the number of zero-emission buses on the country’s roads with just one year’s funding, the Federal Public Transport Administration announced Tuesday, Ian Duncan reports for the Washington Post.

The agency said it has given $1.6 billion to transit operators across the country to buy about 1,800 new buses – 1,100 of which will be zero-emissions – and to build maintenance and charging facilities. and train workers.

The money will be split among 150 projects in 48 states, officials said. The agency will distribute four more rounds of funds in the coming years as the country transitions from diesel-powered buses to more sustainable battery- or hydrogen-powered buses.

Michael Landrieu, President Bidenthe infrastructure adviser of, said that the financing will be supplemented by the provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act aimed at stimulating the manufacture of batteries and the adoption of clean heavy-duty vehicles.

Western states face deadline for steep water cuts with Colorado River at tipping point

Tuesday marks the deadline for seven states in the Colorado River Basin to propose unprecedented restrictions on their water use or for the federal government to unilaterally impose the cuts, as the West remains locked in the worst drought in 1 200 years.

But so far, negotiations over water sharing between the states have yielded no progress, a Nevada official wrote in a letter obtained by Hill’s. Zack Budryk.

The last three months of talks have “produced exactly nothing in terms of meaningful collective action to help avert the impending crisis”, John Entsmingerthe general manager of Southern Nevada Water Authoritywrote in the letter to Interior Department and recovery office officials.

Meanwhile, in Utah, authorities are scrambling to find new water sources to sustain the masses of people who move to the area for its stunning scenery, Karin Brullard reports for La Poste.

In St. George, Utah, a fast-growing metropolitan area where visitors can easily enter Zion National Parkthe population of 180,000 is expected to more than double by 2050 – even though its only source of water, the Virgin River basin, is rapidly declining due to human-induced climate change.

More dangerous heat waves are on the way – see the impact by postcode

Millions of people across the United States are expected to experience extreme temperatures more frequently and for longer periods over the next 30 years as climate change tightens its grip on the planet, according to data released Monday by the organization. non-profit First Street FoundationThe post office Jean Muyskens, Andrew BaTran, Anne Phillips, Simon Ducroquet and Naema Ahmed report.

The analysis relied on measurements of surface temperature data, tree cover, impermeable surfaces and proximity to water using a moderate scenario in which global greenhouse gas emissions peak around 2040, then slowly decrease. A breakdown of the group’s data by Post concluded that global warming has already caused about 46% of Americans to experience at least three consecutive days of triple-digit heat a year. Over the next three decades, this figure is expected to rise to 63%.

Nowhere is the danger more prevalent than in the South, where climate change is expected to produce an average of 20 additional days of triple-digit heat each year. In some states, like Texas and Florida, residents could see more than 70 consecutive days with a heat index above 100 degrees. The findings come as high temperatures hit record highs this summer, threatening power grids and increasing the risk of heat-related illnesses in vulnerable populations.

Cut Inflation Act promotes nature as a climate solution

The Inflation Reduction Act includes $369 billion in climate and energy-related spending, much of which goes to high-tech climate solutions. But the legislation also sets aside funds for nature-based climate solutions — a less heralded but essential part of tackling climate change, according to The Post. Brady Dennis reports.

The measure includes about $20 billion for agricultural conservation and $5 billion for safeguarding forests across the country, according to the Congressional Research Service. While that may not seem like much, experts note that healthy forests, wetlands and other landscapes can pull billions of tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere each year, making them a powerful carbon sequestration device. carbon.

Simon Stiell, Grenada’s environment minister, will be the next UN climate chief

Simon StielGrenada’s environment minister, was nominated on Monday to be the next executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Fiona Harvey reports for the Guardian.

The announcement comes as nations prepare to meet in Egypt for what is likely to be a UN climate summit, known as the COP27, in less than three months. Stiell, who is tasked with getting nations to step up their climate ambition, was a surprise pick to replace Patricia Espinosathe outgoing Executive Secretary.

Stiell is also the third UN climate chief in a row to come from the Latin America and Caribbean region. The decision highlights the vulnerability of low-lying island nations, which are among the most susceptible to the effects of climate change despite not being the source of the majority of emissions.

Shout out to all eco-anxious climate brethren. We see you.

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