There are roughly $325 billion in clean energy and transportation tax incentives in the Build Back Better Act. These investments represent a key aspect of the U.S. response to climate change.
These policies have the potential to accelerate our transition to cleaner energy, spur economic opportunity, and contribute to better human and planetary health.
Don’t let the dry terminology of tax policy fool you. These policies have the potential to accelerate our transition to cleaner energy, spur economic opportunity, and contribute to better human and planetary health. They are foundational to the vision of a low carbon economy that promotes health and opportunity for all.
These investments are urgently needed. It may seem like wind farms and solar installations are proliferating across the United States. They can be seen sprouting up from coastal Virginia to rural Oregon. The fact is, however, that solar represents only 2.5% of our energy production, while wind represents a mere 8.4%. The transition to low carbon energy is happening, it’s just not happening fast enough.
The benefits of doing more to accelerate the growth of clean energy are well documented. Renewable energy tax incentives—combined with advanced energy manufacturing tax credits to incentivize new manufacturing capacity—are the type of policies that can spur economic growth and accelerate job creation. Importantly, programs like these can drive the emissions reductions needed if the United States is to achieve a 50-52% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Such credits already exist and are working—a recent report by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie found that extending the 30% investment tax credit (a federal tax incentive for business investment) will potentially drive $87 billion in new investment and increase the deployment of solar energy by 44% over the next decade.
The climate policies contained in the Build Back Better Act will catalyze a 21st century economy and move us towards a healthy society that benefits everyone.
Clean energy incentives do more than generate jobs and spur economic growth, they are also highly relevant to human and ecological health. A 2021 study found that burning fossil fuels kills an estimated 350,000 people in the United States, and nearly 9 million people worldwide each year. Expanding access to electric vehicles through a tax credit (combined with the $5 billion already secured in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to decarbonize the U.S. school bus fleet) will move us a step away from the harmful byproducts of gasoline and diesel fuels. Green fleets also dramatically reduce ground smog that can lead to health problems like asthma, reduced lung capacity, and increased susceptibility to respiratory illness. Incentivizing clean energy and clean transportation is harm reduction.
The world we seek is one where our climate policies contribute to greater economic opportunity, better human health, and a cleaner environment. The climate policies contained in the Build Back Better Act will catalyze a 21st century economy and move us towards a healthy society that benefits everyone. These policies have the added benefit of being popular with the American public—a Reuters/Ipsos found that 56% of Americans support the legislation overall and 66% support investing in clean energy tax credits and incentives. Congress must seize this moment and pass the transformational climate policies contained in the Build Back Better Act.