Climate, Health and Equity Brief
Deadly floods, food insecurity and Manchin comes through
July 29, 2022
The Climate, Health & Equity Brief is GMMB’s take on the week’s news on the current impacts of climate change. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do so by clicking here.
Hot Topic: Hope. In a stunning about-face on Thursday, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) revealed that they had reached an agreement on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022—a bill that includes $369 billion to fight climate change and protect American energy security. While the bill falls far short of the $555 billion in climate change investments passed by the House as part of the Build Back Better Act, if passed, the measure will be the single largest investment in climate mitigation in U.S. history.
Among the climate provisions included, the Inflation Reduction Act proposes:
- $60 billion in environmental justice programs to fight pollution and address public health threats, particularly in disadvantaged communities
- $60 billion in investments to accelerate U.S. manufacturing of solar panels, wind turbines and battery technologies
- $30 billion in grants and loans for utilities and states to gradually convert to clean energy
- $20 billion to implement climate-smart agricultural practices nationwide
- $9 billion for rebate programs for low-income consumers to make their homes more energy efficient
- $1 billion in grants for affordable housing energy upgrades
- A $4,000 tax credit for lower- and middle-income consumers to purchase used EVs and an (up to) $7,500 tax credit to purchase new EVs
- Tax credits for consumers who add renewable energy items (such as efficient heat pumps and rooftop solar panels) to their homes
- Research and development funding for hydrogen, nuclear power, low carbon fuels and energy storage technologies
- A methane emissions reduction program to cut leaks of the potent greenhouse gas from natural gas drill sites
- Penalties for oil and gas companies that fail to reduce their methane emissions
Notably, the bill also requires the federal government to offer tens of millions of acres for fossil fuel drilling over the next decade as a “prerequisite” to the expansion of offshore wind. While this locks in more U.S. reliance on fossil fuels, the provision was key to winning Sen. Manchin’s support. Overall, the bill aims to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent this decade, reduce the deficit by $300 billion and fight inflation, though the bill is expected to face intense opposition from Republicans.
In the face of yet another week fraught with unprecedented, climate-fueled disasters in America’s heartland and despite a difficult road ahead, the agreement is an undeniable step in the right direction for U.S. climate action, something we can—at last—be optimistic about.
— Matt and Traci, GMMB
Flash flooding in Eastern Kentucky has taken at least 20 lives, washed dozens of homes off their foundations, “annihilated” infrastructure and left tens of thousands without power, prompting Gov. Andy Beshear (D) to declare a state of emergency and warn that the discovery of more deaths is a near certainty in the days ahead. (CNN)
A new World Meteorological Organization report found that climate-fueled heat, drought and flooding have caused human death and displacement, damaged crops significantly enough to impact global food markets and stalled decades of progress against food insecurity, poverty and inequality, with the impacts only set to intensify. (Bloomberg)
In the face of a brutal summer heatwave that resulted in more than 14,000 heatstroke hospitalizations in just one week, two Japanese companies have rolled out new insurance policies specifically designed to cover heat-related illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths—the first plans of their kind in Japan. (Bloomberg)
Outdated climate and weather modeling systems are resulting in the massive under-estimation of extreme weather impacts by engineers, developers and first responders and leading to missteps in preparing for and controlling fires, floods and droughts that are putting lives at risk. (USA Today)
Missouri declared a state of emergency after torrential rains inundated the state with nine inches of rain in one day, shattering a 107-year precipitation record, causing flash floods in St. Louis and leaving at least two dead and many more stranded or displaced. (The Washington Post)
California’s ferocious Oak Fire has displaced nearly 5,000 people, destroyed more than 18,800 acres and decimated at least 135 structures outside of Yosemite National Park. (Axios)
By a wide margin, this legislation will be the greatest pro-climate legislation that has ever been passed by Congress.”
– Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on the new tax and climate bill agreed to this week by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Government leaders worldwide are reassessing migration policies as more and more people are displaced by climate catastrophes, with current estimates suggesting natural disasters are forcing nearly 21.5 million people to flee their homes each year. (PBS News)
Politics & Economy
Following a stunning about-face by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Senate Democrats have reached a deal on legislation that would invest a record $369 billion into climate and energy programs, with the goal of reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent this decade, reducing the deficit by $300 billion and fighting inflation. (CNN)
A new study found that the difference between a 2°C and a 1.5°C temperature increase in China could double the probability of severe floods for some areas, with warming of 2°C resulting in expected annual damages of more than $200 billion. (Carbon Brief)
According to a new International Energy Agency report, China will soon produce 95 percent of the world’s solar panels, leaving the rest of the world vulnerable to supply chain disruptions and requiring that other countries—including the U.S.—take steps to shore up their own manufacturing capabilities in order to help meet global demand. (Canary Media)
The Democratic Republic of the Congo announced it will auction oil and gas permits in the only major rainforest in the world that sequesters more carbon than it emits—a move experts say will accelerate the climate crisis, impose a pollution disaster on communities and endangered wildlife and lead to further civil unrest in an already unstable country. (The Guardian)
Life as We Know It
As the frequency and intensity of extreme heat events increases in Europe, the future of the Tour de France—which this year had a high temperature of 104°F—is growing increasingly uncertain. (The Washington Post)
Portola Redwoods State Park, a beloved San Francisco Bay Area camping site, has closed its campground facilities for the remainder of summer due to extended drought resulting in a lack of water for restrooms, drinking water and fire suppression. (SFGate)
The U.S. Forest Service will plant more than one billion trees across 4.1 million acres in the U.S. West over the next decade to help replenish forests that have been devastated by wildfires and other climate impacts. (AP News)
Union Pacific announced it will accelerate plans to modernize 600 trains over the next three years in an effort to increase fuel efficiency up to 18 percent and cut 210,000 tons of annual carbon emissions resulting from their operations. (AP News)
Check out GreenBiz’s list of eight TED Talks that present some of the boldest and biggest ideas from leading scientists, researchers, technologists, business leaders, artists, designers, and other experts on solving the climate crisis.
The GMMB Climate, Health & Equity Brief would not be possible without the contributions of the larger GMMB California team— Elke Cortes, Devin Della Maggoria, Sharde Olabanji and Stefana Simonetto. Feedback on the Brief is welcome and encouraged and should be sent to CHandEBrief@gmmb.com.