A landmark climate bill was signed last year, signalling the United States’ largest investment in clean energy to date. Five months later, there are signs that the legislation may have triggered a new boom in the renewable energy sector.
Inflation Legislation Spurs Green Jobs Growth
Last August, President Joe Biden signed into U.S. law the historic Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), legislation that aimed to curb the country’s carbon emissions and stimulate clean energy programs. With billions of dollars earmarked for climate change initiatives and renewable energy funding, both industry and political pundits alike were keen to see just what the United States’ largest ever investment in environmental action has bought.
According to new research, the results are promising indeed. An independent study by non-profit environmental advocacy group Climate Power has revealed that U.S companies have so far added more than 100,000 clean energy jobs to the labour market. The group estimated private sector jobs by monitoring press clippings and company announcements, across a wide range of sectors that aim to reduce carbon emissions. As these figures are sourced from public reports, the group says they are likely on the lower end of the spectrum.
Climate Power also identified over 90 new clean energy projects across 31 states that have been announced since the IRA was signed. Those projects represent nearly $90 billion USD in new investments into the wind, solar and electric vehicle manufacturing sectors. Human resources are required to run these projects, leading to the creation of new positions including electricians, technicians, construction workers and mechanics.
A majority of the new projects are clustered around seven US states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. The most heavily invested state is Georgia, which has attracted projects totalling $15 billion dollars, equating to an expected 17,000 new jobs. Some of the clean energy projects in the pipeline include a $2.5 billion for a next-generation battery cell production facility and another $2.5 billion for construction of a solar panel factory.
The Start Of A New Era
The original intention of the IRA was to help reduce the United States’ environmental impact by fostering innovation in the green energy sector. So far, it looks to be making strides toward that lofty goal. If the bill’s climate provisions are realised, the U.S. carbon emission rate should be cut by up to 40% in the year 2030. During his first term, President Biden committed to focus on reducing emissions with the ultimate goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The IRA looks to support these targets through a series of other measures, including work on environmental justice initiatives and tax credits for zero-carbon energy production, alongside the manufacturing of clean energy products.
President Biden committed to focus on reducing emissions with the ultimate goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
Industry support for the legislation has been strong, with 22 companies planning to expand current or build new EV manufacturing in several US states, whilst an additional 24 companies are set to expand their domestic wind and solar manufacturing operations.
In a statement, Lori Lodes, Executive Director of Climate Power, spoke to the initial success of the legislation.
“We’re already at the precipice of a renewed manufacturing, Made in America boom that will create opportunities for millions of Americans, all while reducing toxic emissions that harm the health and wellbeing of our communities,” she said.
Lodes also noted that Climate Power would continue to track the progress of the legislation through a dedicated website that will list new clean energy project announcements.