Easy ways to talk about the new Climate Bill

Washtenaw Climate Reality

If talking to others about climate action is one of the most important things we can do, as Katherine Hayhoe suggests, then I really blew it yesterday.  I was hanging out on a friend’s deck last night, when one of the other guests mentioned the new climate bill.  “That’s going to do absolutely nothing,” he said.  The statement seemed to hang in air forever…

OK, here was my moment! I could first try to understand what he meant, then offer my reasons for why I felt the new climate bill very much *could* do something, that indeed it was one of our best chances for retaining a livable planet. Then I worried that I really didn’t have “the facts” handy, to give specifics about what the bill actually does.  And I let that stop me, and I said nothing.  No one else really said anything either, and the conversation very quickly moved on.

Learning from my mistake

I regret missing that chance, but what could I do differently in the future?

First, learn some simple facts about the bill.

Second, realize that facts are only part of it.  It’s not Debate Club.  Last night, even without facts, it would have been easy to simply state my support for the bill in general, and also been open to learning more about his perspective.

But, yeah, let’s get some facts

The fact is, I like facts.  With just a couple of facts under my belt, I feel more confident engaging in a discussion about climate change, whether I end up presenting those facts or not.  So I did a little research, found Dana Nuccitelli’s wonderful article, and extracted a few key points.

The Main Fact

The new bill will reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by the year 2030.

Want a bit more info? The 40-by-2030 estimate is based on analyses by three energy modeling groups. While this falls short of the 50% reduction target in the U.S. Paris commitment, it gets us much much closer than we would be otherwise. So this is a solid step in the right direction, but not sufficient all by itself to get us where we need to be. 

Just 5 More Facts (Where do the reductions come from?)

The reductions in carbon emissions come primarily from 5 main provisions in the bill.  Here they are, ranked by their projected impact on carbon emissions.

  1. Production and investment tax credits for clean electricity projects. (About 36% of the bill’s projected emissions cuts)
  2. Tax credits and incentive for electric vehicle purchases. (About 28% of the bill’s cuts)
  3. Fee for methane leakage. (About 14% of total)
  4. Carbon capture and storage. (About 13% of the total)
  5. Carbon removal through natural processes, such as urban forestry, forest conservation, and wildfire prevention. (About 10% of the total).

And if you only want 2 facts instead of 5, just remember the top two measures, both of which are basically tax credits.

Will it work?

Based on my reading of the article, there are many reasons to believe that these measures will work. These are all straightforward policies, not magic wishes, so success depends mainly on following through on them, rather than hoping for a miracle.

In other words, if *we* work to make it work, it’ll work. ?

Are there other benefits?

Glad you asked! Yes!

The estimated benefits of reduced air pollution in the U.S. include:

  1. Avoiding 180,000 premature deaths between now and 2030
  2. 10 million fewer lost work days
  3. 60,000 fewer incidences of dementia (wow!)
  4. Increased staple crop yields worth $4 billion.

And, lest we forget, significant economic benefits! The average U.S. household will save about $1000 in yearly energy costs in 2030 compared to 2021. And the bill incentivizes American industry to become competitive in the developing global market for green technology.

There’s plenty more in the article, along with links to the source reports from the energy modeling groups: Princeton REPEAT, Energy Innovation, and Rhodium Group.


Dana Nuccitelli wrote such a good article that I’m just going to quote him: 

This bill is by far the most substantive U.S. effort to mitigate climate change. Over the past 17 years, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions declined by just 17%, or 1% per year. Over the next eight years, this package is projected to triple that rate of emissions cuts, to 3% per year, bringing the country to about 40% below 2005 levels in 2030; within striking distance of its Paris commitment. The legislation is projected to improve Americans’ health, employment, economic growth, and agricultural productivity, while inflation and the federal deficit would shrink.

Yale Climate Connections article, Dana Nuccitelli

I’m going to challenge myself to respond excitedly the next time someone brings up the new climate bill. With the Main Fact at the ready (40% reduction by 2030), along with a tax credit or two, I feel prepared!  

Better yet, I can bring up the topic myself!  

So let’s keep talking about climate action.  This will pave the way for successful implementation of this bill, and for the future additional measures that will be required to get to 50% reduction by 2030.

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