The Inflation Reduction Act has been credited with creating more than 170,000 new green jobs. Image: Unsplash/rabihshasha
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- One year on, the Inflation Reduction Act has sparked a green revolution in the US.
- Tax breaks have seen a surge in sales of electric vehicles and heat pumps.
- The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023 says demand for green jobs is rising globally.
For a piece of legislation aimed at slowing price rises, the United States’ Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has had a big impact on the environment. In fact, many experts have credited the sweeping law with turbocharging a green revolution in the US.
The IRA, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden in August 2022, included billions of dollars of investments and tax breaks to advance the country’s green energy transition and boost sustainability efforts. One year on, here’s how the IRA has impacted the US’s green economy.
More green jobs
The IRA has been credited with creating more than 170,000 new green jobs across the country over the last 12 months. Non-profit Climate Power found that by July 2023, over 270 new clean energy projects had been implemented nationwide, amounting to $278 billion in new investments.
These include projects from Arizona to New York, including investment in wind turbine manufacture, solar power infrastructure, battery facilities and the first US electrolyser production facility.
For example, Vestas, a World Economic Forum partner, has released plans to manufacture its newest wind turbine in Colorado, investing $40 million and creating jobs.
Meanwhile, in North Carolina, Toyota, another Forum partner, has scaled-up its investment, pouring $2.5 billion into its electric vehicle battery manufacturing facility in the state.
Some experts say the IRA has stimulated efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to such an extent that forecasts of the degree to which the US is now expected to cut its emissions by 2030 have been revised upwards from a fifth to as much as 42%.
The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023 said the rapid growth in demand for green jobs could create 9 million new jobs globally each year. Energy-intensive industries were leading the green recruitment wave in the US, Europe and India, the report said.
A boost for EVs and heat pumps
Much of the progress in the US is down to the raft of tax credits that the IRA introduced for everything from purchasing an electric vehicle (EV) to installing a heat pump. Sales of EVs surged 54% in the first quarter of 2023, according to data from Schroders.
Helped by credits of up to $7,500 per vehicle, 1 in 12 cars sold in the US is now an EV, Schroders says. As well as boosting sales of new and used EVs, the tax credit rules have also encouraged carmakers to cut prices.
The subsidy is only available on cars that cost less than $55,000 and SUVs priced at less than $80,000, prompting price reductions by leading manufacturers including Tesla. To be eligible, EVs must also meet domestic manufacturing requirements.
The so-called Made in America rules are also stimulating a rapid expansion of EV battery manufacturing with the US Department of Energy forecasting a 20-fold increase in capacity by 2030, enough to support the production of 10-13 million EVs a year.
Households can also claim up to $14,000 to install energy-efficient installations such as rooftop solar power and heat pumps, depending on income level. Sales of heat pumps exceeded gas home heating boilers in the US for the first time in 2022, official figures show.
So far, 15% of US households have a heat pump as their primary source of home heating and US heat pump sales grew by 11% in 2022 with growth rates predicted to rise to 15% in 2023, according to the International Energy Agency.
What's the World Economic Forum doing about the transition to clean energy?
Cleaning up the environment
With IRA funding, the US Environmental Protection Agency has boosted its efforts to safeguard and clean up the country’s environment.
Over the past year, the EPA has used $30 million in funding to expand community air monitoring in 37 states and awarded $25 million in clean air grants to improve air quality. The EPA has also made $250 million available states and local governments to fund the development of climate action plans.
“The EPA team has been hard at work designing innovative programs to cut emissions in every sector of our economy, while empowering communities across the country with the resources to take decisive action,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said.
The EPA has also made $650 million available for environmental justice projects aimed at supporting low-income and disadvantaged communities dealing with the climate crisis.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has awarded more than $500 million, in part funded by the IRA, to make coastal communities and economies more resilient to the impacts of climate change. The NOAA has also announced a further $575 million competition to build resilience in coastal regions to the impacts of extreme weather and climate change.
Funding has also been made available by the US Forest Service to boost equitable access to trees – and the benefits they bring – in urban communities. The funding could ultimately extend to $1 billion in grants.
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
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