Turn on the evening news and it’s immediately clear that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change. Extreme heat and drought are affecting tens of millions of people, while floods and wildfires are ravaging communities from Appalachia to California. In the coming days, Congress has an opportunity to confront the climate crisis while strengthening our nation’s energy security, creating opportunities for business, and improving the lives of Americans. We can’t afford to miss it.
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 may be the most important piece of climate legislation in American history. This represents our best chance to build an energy future that is cleaner, cheaper and more secure. Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Joe Manchin of West Virginia deserve much of the credit for reaching this agreement, along with countless others. Many business leaders and activists I have come to know through Breakthrough Energy, the climate organization I founded in 2015 to accelerate the transition to clean energy, have worked tirelessly for decades for this moment. But while it looks like the legislation will pass, success isn’t guaranteed, so it’s critical that we keep pushing for it. Let me explain why.
Many of the technologies we will need to reach net zero emissions do not exist, are in early development, or are still too expensive to scale up. At the same time, more mature technologies such as solar, wind and electric vehicles need to be deployed more quickly in more places. Through new and expanded tax credits and a long-term approach, this bill will ensure that critical climate solutions receive sustained support for development in new industries.
These incentives would also give the private sector the confidence to invest in the long term. This legislation will begin to transform the parts of our economy that are hardest to decarbonize, such as the manufacturing we need to do to reach net zero emissions. As many Americans face summer blackouts, power shortages, and high utility bills, these measures will help build a modern, reliable power grid so that everyone has access to affordable, abundant, and clean energy.
With these incentives and investments, this bill will catalyze a new era of American innovation. The ability of American universities and industries to innovate remains unmatched, but the country risks being left behind as other countries race to build their own clean energy economies. This legislation will help turn American energy innovation into American energy industries and unlock enormous economic opportunities in the energy market. If it becomes law, few nations will have the capacity to produce their own clean energy like the United States. America can quickly become a leader in deploying clean energy at the scale needed.
The climate and the world are changing. What challenges will the future bring and how should we respond to them?
American businesses are ready for this change. I’ve spoken to corporate leaders who are eager for our government to act. Many have made big climate commitments and invested significant sums in clean energy both because they care about keeping their promises and because it’s good business. Even more businesses are waiting on the sidelines for a strong signal from the government that clean industries are a solid long-term investment. Passage of the Inflation Reduction Act would send that message and allow private capital to fuel our clean energy future with even greater confidence.
With President Biden’s signature, this legislation will boost and support clean energy industries that could create millions of jobs, many in communities built on fossil fuels. Indeed, many of the most promising technologies in the clean energy economy will require similar skills and expertise to those possessed by today’s coal, oil and gas workers. This will help ensure a fair transition.
Solving climate change is perhaps the most difficult challenge humanity has ever faced. This will require a fundamental transformation of the way we power our communities, move goods, build things, heat and cool buildings and grow food – basically how we do everything. We need to do it quickly with a coherent and coherent plan if we are to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
The country has an opportunity to lead by offering a vision of what is possible – and then making it happen. By passing this legislation, Congress will mark a time when, despite the many challenges facing the nation, lawmakers in Washington are acting with ambition and vision to build a cleaner, healthier and more prosperous future. Lets do it.
Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, is also the founder of Breakthrough Energy and the author of How to Avoid Climate Catastrophe.