Policy

The science is clear: We need strong climate policies now

The U.S. must expand upon historic policies to match the scale of the climate crisis.

Photo of solar photovoltaic panels and one wind turbine in a field below a bright blue sky.
Clean Power Photovoltaic and wind turbine in the countryside. © jjnogueron via iStockPhoto
Jason Albritton.
Jason Albritton Director of Climate & Energy Policy for The Nature Conservancy

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The recently released report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concludes that “any further delay in concerted…action…will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future for all.”

This is a resounding call to accelerate the momentum for climate action. While we celebrate progress like expanded individual consumer choices and significant federal investments in energy infrastructure, we must also acknowledge that we still have a long way to go. If we’re going to reduce emissions enough to meet our international commitments and protect the most vulnerable from the worst impacts of climate change, we need to act quickly.

There’s No Time to Wait

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Recent Federal Policy Progress

Over the past 18 months, Congress demonstrated its commitment to a clean energy transition. In December 2020, Congress passed a bipartisan bundle of clean energy measures, led by U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.. Almost a year later, bipartisan support led to the approval of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which provides historic levels of funding to protect the country from the detrimental effects of climate change and enables the expansion of clean energy across our economy.

These programs have built a foundation for meaningful action, but even combined, they will deliver only a small fraction of what is needed to meet the United States’ goal under the Paris Agreement of reaching 50% economy-wide emissions by 2030. More must be done to meet the urgent need for substantial and lasting reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and stave off the worst consequences of climate change.

Now is the time for Congress to pass policies and investments that will accelerate equitable clean energy transitions, enable carbon management through technical and natural solutions, and drive down emissions across the country.

Jason Albritton TNC's Director of Climate and Energy Policy in U.S.

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Next Climate Opportunities for Congress

The climate and clean energy framework that emerged from discussions on the Build Back Better Act late last year included a suite of policies that would both make meaningful progress toward our climate goals and unlock the promise of innovative, cleaner industries and the jobs that come with them. Proposals under consideration would also help address the disproportionate effects air pollution and climate change have on historically marginalized or underserved communities.

It is essential that Congress act soon on these critical climate provisions.

Now is the time for Congress to pass policies and investments that will accelerate equitable clean energy transitions, enable carbon management through technical and natural solutions, and drive down emissions across the country.

Specific priorities Congress should pass include:

  • A comprehensive and long-term tax incentive package to support the deployment of both mature and emerging technologies needed to reach net zero emissions.
  • Enhanced tax credits to accelerate development of renewable energy on former mine lands and brownfields.
  • Investment in pollution-free energy and transit, trucks and buses, and incentives for purchases of cleaner vehicles.
  • Incentives to encourage domestic manufacturing of advanced energy technologies, cleaner manufacturing processes, and technologies to reduce industrial emissions like carbon capture and sequestration or utilization.
  • Maximizing the carbon storage capacity of our natural and working lands by increasing funds to federal programs that support climate smart agriculture and forestry.
  • Investments in nature-based solutions to enhance climate resilience, reduce wildfire risk and restore natural areas—all with the help of a Civilian Climate Corps to create new jobs.
  • Programs that would help us better understand the burdens of front-line communities and make direct investments to improve local air quality, lower energy costs, and expand access to clean energy.

These efforts, combined with previous investments, would enable the United States to make significant progress toward its climate goals while also bolstering local economies and creating healthier, more equitable communities. 

Finding a Way—Fast

If we miss the narrow window of opportunity to enact these policies now, we may lose our chance to make big strides over the next decade. Now is not the time to let up.

Together, we must find a way to turn the years of hard work and slow progress to address climate change into quick, bold action to see this all the way through.

Jason Albritton.

Jason Albritton is Director of Climate & Energy Policy for The Nature Conservancy

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