Biden’s silent climate victory lap
The president talks up his climate laws without saying “climate.” Can the U.S. meet its climate goals without telling voters about them?
Well, we finally got an actual “Infrastructure Week.”
President Biden has been traveling from Baltimore to Latest York to Kentucky, touting his major legislative achievements in front of trains, tunnels and bridges. He’s talking up each the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) as a warm-up for his State of the Union speech on February 7. In these speeches, Biden talks about speeding up commutes and creating jobs. And even when he mentions the brand new funding to construct “charging stations” he refrains from uttering the words “electric vehicles.”
Biden is taking a victory lap for his landmark climate laws without saying the word “climate.”
Each laws are, in fact, big climate achievements. The IRA provides $369 billion for climate and clean energy programs, the biggest investment of its kind ever passed by Congress. It could shrink the country’s carbon emissions by roughly 40% by 2030. The bi-partisan IIJA is an almost $1 trillion package that features billions for clean energy infrastructure.
Now, it’s not a surprise that Biden is taking this victory lap without dwelling on the “c” word.” It’s tradition. From Nixon to Clinton to Obama, the consensus has held that environmentalism doesn’t lend itself to reelection campaigns. And it’s not a surprise, because each IRA and IIJA were designed––and branded––as economic measures on purpose.
But this strategy, together with some fresh polling, could spell trouble for meeting U.S. climate goals. That’s because most Americans do not know there are billions of climate change-related tax credits and rebates that they will profit from, like straight away.
In reality, one in three registered voters (33%) have heard “nothing in any respect” in regards to the IRA. That’s one big finding from the most recent report called “Climate Change within the American Mind,” put out by the Yale Program on Climate Change and George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. Of those that have heard in regards to the IRA, only 8% associated the law with “climate and clean energy.” Perhaps that’s the specified effect of passing a climate bill without calling it a climate bill. But what’s it mean for implementation?
Here’s the larger problem revealed by that recent survey: Fewer than half of registered voters think the IRA “will help them or the country.” A measly 26% of registered voters think it’s going to profit their family. That features 47% of liberal Democrats, 34% of moderate/conservative Democrats, 7% of liberal/moderate Republicans, and three% of conservative Republicans. Yes, greater than half of liberal Democrats think that the IRA will not profit their family.
So, can the Biden administration make gains implementing the IRA if even liberal Democrats don’t know in regards to the billions of climate-related tax credits and rebates? In spite of everything, that very same group told pollsters that they support funding for renewable energy in huge numbers (98%) and that global warming is one in every of several vital issues in deciding methods to vote (77%).
White House advisors say they’ve a plan. They are saying they’re working with states, contractors, retailers and social media influencers to be certain that rebates and credits are front of mind for the American consumer in the intervening time they’re walking the aisle of Home Depot searching for a recent water heater or hovering their mouse over that ad for solar panels. Biden himself acknowledged the communication challenge during a recent Cabinet meeting when he was talking in regards to the climate-friendly incentives.
“Folks have to know methods to reap the benefits of these advantages that we passed,” Biden said. “That’s on all of us across the table here to be certain that we get that message out clearly.”
That “all of us” includes the journalists who were present to cover that Cabinet meeting, whether Biden meant that or not.
Implementation of the IRA in communities and households across the country is one in every of the media stories to look at in 2023, not only for environmental reporters but for any newsroom. The nonprofit Rewiring America calculates that the IRA principally “creates an $8,000 checking account for each American household” to purchase things like heat pumps, window retrofits, and electric vehicles, as longtime journalist and environmentalist Bill McKibben identified recently during a webinar organized by Covering Climate Now. He added that newsrooms across the country may help the cause by alerting their local audiences (and elected representatives) to all of the funding available, after which tracking how well the cash is used.
The polling by Yale and George Mason did have some excellent news for the Biden administration and anyone who cares about addressing the climate crisis: A majority of registered voters surveyed support constructing climate-friendly energy production and distribution of their local area: 61% with regards to solar; 58% and 57% respectively for electric vehicle charging stations and wind farms; and 54% for high-voltage power lines.
So possibly, we’re not taking a look at “Infrastructure Week”, but relatively “Infrastructure Yr.”