What’s in the biggest U.S. climate legislation ever passed?

President Biden signed into law the United States’ largest investment in the fight against the climate crisis.

The legislation will keep the United States on track to meet its Paris Agreement goals by reducing U.S. carbon emissions 40% by 2030 and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

“This bill is the biggest step forward on climate ever,” Biden said when he signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 into law August 16. “It’s going to allow us to boldly take additional steps toward meeting all of my climate goals.”

Reducing emissions, boosting clean energy

The IRA will eliminate U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 1 billion metric tons by 2030, an impact 10 times greater than any outlined in earlier-enacted U.S. legislation.

Workers installing solar panels on roof in residential area (© John Minchillo/AP Images)
Employees of New York State Solar install an array of solar panels on a roof August 11 in Massapequa, New York. (© John Minchillo/AP Images)

This will be accomplished by investing in clean energy infrastructure and providing tax incentives for Americans to convert their homes to climate-friendly energy.

By 2030, the United States private sector will install:

  • 950 million solar panels.
  • 120,000 wind turbines.
  • 2,300 grid-scale battery plants.

The IRA will also advance cost-saving clean energy projects at rural electric cooperatives serving 42 million people, ensuring all Americans receive the benefits of renewable energy.

“The Inflation Reduction Act invests $369 billion to take the most aggressive action ever,” Biden said, “in confronting the climate crisis and strengthening our economic — our energy security.”

Conserving natural resources

Top photo showing water surrounding large rock. Bottom showing the same area dry 10 months later (© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Top photo: Park visitors walk on an area of Lake Powell that used to be underwater at Lone Rock Beach June 23, 2021, in Big Water, Utah. The bottom photo shows the same area March 27. (© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The bill focuses on natural solutions to the climate crisis, too.

Around the world, forests absorb one-third of the carbon dioxide released from burning fossil fuels, making them one of the most powerful tools to combat the climate crisis. In the United States, forests absorb 14% of annual carbon emissions. The IRA allocates $5 billion to protect nearly 800,000 hectares of national forests across the country.

The IRA will provide $19.5 billion for agricultural conservation, such as expanding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Urban and Community Forestry Program with tree-planting projects to help cool underserved communities.

Saving money while creating jobs

The legislation offers huge tax breaks and financial incentives to American corporations and residents to go green. In addition, it will create millions of well-paying jobs in the clean energy sector across America.

Biden set a goal to ensure 50% of all new U.S. car purchases are electric vehicles by 2030. The new law now provides tax credits to Americans who want to buy a zero-emissions vehicle.

The law gives incentives for large and small businesses to go green. Small businesses can receive a tax credit to cover 30% of the cost of switching to solar power. Larger businesses can receive a clean energy tax credit for switching to wind, solar, nuclear and clean hydrogen.

“Today offers further proof that the soul of America is vibrant, the future of America is bright, and the promise of America is real and just beginning,” Biden said.