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Here’s how much Congress’s historic climate bill would actually cut emissions

The massive new climate bill isn’t perfect. But a new analysis from think tank Energy Innovation details just what a difference it would make.

Here’s how much Congress’s historic climate bill would actually cut emissions
[Photos: Arctic-Images/Getty ImagesArctic-Images/Getty ImagesNerthuz/Getty Images, Arctic-Images/Getty Images]

The massive new climate bill under consideration in Congress isn’t perfect for the climate: At the same time that the policy boosts support for renewable energy, it also requires the government to auction off public land for oil drilling.

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Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who has raked in $689,860 in campaign contributions from oil and gas companies this election cycle, fought to include support for fossil fuels as part of the $369 billion package.

But a new analysis from Energy Innovation, a climate and energy think tank, finds that for every ton of emissions generated by the new fossil fuel provisions, the other provisions in the bill will help avoid 24 tons of emissions.

The analysis projects that by 2030, greenhouse gas emissions will be as much as 2.8 billion metric tons lower than they were in 2005, representing a 34%-41% reduction. With additional new state policies and executive action, it’s feasible that the U.S. could meet its Paris climate target to cut emissions in half by the end of the decade.

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The bill is “the most significant federal climate and clean energy legislation in U.S. history,” Energy Innovation writes in its new analysis.

Along with the climate benefits, it calculated that the policy would also help avoid as many as 3,900 premature deaths from air pollution each year by 2030, and as many as 100,000 asthma attacks. It could also create at least 1.5 million new jobs by the end of the decade.

The hundreds of billions in funding (offset by $739 billion in new revenue, including from a new corporate tax hike) earmarks a long list of provisions to help scale up climate tech.

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Existing production tax credits for companies making solar panels, batteries, and wind turbines will be extended. Car companies will get support to build new electric vehicle factories. Consumers will get tax credits to buy EVs and other clean tech, such as heat pumps that can reduce emissions from heating and cooling homes. A new National Green Bank will help bring more funding to clean energy.

Heavy industry will get support to reduce emissions from factories. Oil and gas companies will be fined if they exceed new limits on emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

The U.S. Postal Service will get $3 billion to electrify mail trucks; another $3 billion will help ports adopt zero-emissions tech. Billions more will support reforestation and coastal restoration and help farmers adopt climate-friendly practices.

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Environmental justice funding will help communities monitor air quality, become more resilient in the face of extreme weather, and help reconnect neighborhoods that were previously divided by highways. And the list goes on.

The bill still isn’t guaranteed to pass; Manchin has repeatedly changed his mind in the past, and Democratic Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema hasn’t yet said how she’ll vote. (For the bill to pass, every Democrat will need to vote for it, along with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris.)

The Energy Innovation analysis calculates that without the policy the U.S. will cut emissions by only 24%—completely missing a critical target to help avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

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About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley

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