To continue reading

Create a free account or sign in to unlock more free articles.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy

Sparks

The New Climate Laws’ Tax Credits for Homeowners Are Crazy Powerful

A new study in Energy Policy does the math.

A heat pump.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

The Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act — better known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — are together filled with dozens of financial incentives to help regular Americans switch to clean technologies. The IRA, in particular, is the largest investment in confronting climate change the country has ever made. That work is happening, in no small part, on the (literal) home front.

A new study published in the journal Energy Policy authored by researchers from Vanderbilt University, shows that while only about 12% of climate and energy funds in the IRA and 5.7% in the BIL target voluntary household actions, they could leverage 40% of the cumulative emissions reductions under those laws.

That’s a big return on investment, and a rare sign that regular citizens might, after all, have some level of agency in helping solve a problem that can often feel beyond our grasp. The authors note that getting to that level of emissions reduction is perhaps easier said than done — navigating the process of figuring out eligibility for tax credits, determining cost savings, and actually contracting with local professionals to install all that clean tech is a pretty significant undertaking, and all those roadblocks could get in the way of that best case scenario. The authors’ estimate also accounts for all households in the country, whereas it’s much easier (and more appealing) for an owner of a single-family home to make those kinds of changes to their building than, say, a landlord who won’t see any direct benefits from improving a building they’ve rented out.

A lot of pain points, then. But still, in the face of a huge and abstract problem, knowing that individual actions do make a difference is no small thing.

Want to take advantage of some of these incentives? We’ve got you covered on at least a few of those fronts: my colleague Emily has written a guide to decarbonising your home with the IRA, and Robinson has a car buyer’s guide to the 2024 EV tax credit. That 40% emissions reduction goal will take a lot of individual investment; those guides (and more to come!) are good places to start.

Blue

Neel Dhanesha

Neel is a founding staff writer at Heatmap. Prior to Heatmap, he was a science and climate reporter at Vox, an editorial fellow at Audubon magazine, and an assistant producer at Radiolab, where he helped produce The Other Latif, a series about one detainee's journey to Guantanamo Bay. He is a graduate of the Literary Reportage program at NYU, which helped him turn incoherent scribbles into readable stories, and he grew up (mostly) in Bangalore. He tweets sporadically at @neel_dhan. Read More

Read More

To continue reading

Create a free account or sign in to unlock more free articles.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy

Sparks

Coal’s Slowdown Is Slowing Down

Rising electricity demand puts reliability back on the table.

Pollution.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

The United States has been able to drive its greenhouse gas emissions to their lowest level since the early 1990s largely by reducing the amount of energy on the grid generated by coal to a vast extent. In 2005, by far the predominant source of U.S. electricity, making up some 2.2 million gigawatt-hours of the country’s 4.3 million GWh total energy consumption, according to the International Energy Agency. In 2022, by contrast, coal generation was down to 900,000 GWh out of 4.5 million GWh generated. As a result, “U.S. emissions are 15.8% lower than 2005 levels, while power emissions are 40% lower than 2005 levels,” according to BloombergNEF and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

But the steady retirement of coal plants may be slowing down. Only 2.3 GW of coal generating capacity are set to be shut down so far in 2024, according to the Energy Information Administration. While in 2025, that number is expect to jump up to 10.9 GW, the combined 13.2 GW of retired capacity pales in comparison of the more than 22 GW retired in the past two years, according to EIA figures. Over the past decade, coal retirements have averaged about 10 GW a year, with actual retirements often outpacing forecasts.

Keep reading...Show less
Blue
Sparks

Trump Thinks EV Charging Will Cost $3 Trillion — Which Is Incorrect

Nor will charging infrastructure ”bankrupt” the U.S.

Electric car charging.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Shortly after being fined $350 million (more than $450 million, including interest) over fraudulent business practices and then booed at Sneaker Con, former President Donald Trump traveled to Waterford, Michigan, where he said some incorrect things about electric vehicles.

Even by Trump’s recent standards, Saturday’s Waterford rally was a bit kooky. During his nearly hour-and-a-half-long speech, the former president claimed that his opponents are calling him a whale (“I don’t know if they meant a whale from the standpoint of being a little heavy, or a whale because I got a lot of money”) and, improbably, claimed not to have known what the word “indictment” meant.

Keep reading...Show less
Blue
Sparks

This Chicken Named Potato Will Teach Your Kids About Climate Change

A chicken from the future, to be clear.

Future Chicken.
Heatmap Illustration/CBC, Getty Images

If I told you there was a chicken named Potato who was going to teach our kids about climate change, would you think I was kidding? Either way, I’m here to inform you that Future Chicken, an “ECOtainment platform” co-created by Catherine Winder and Annabel Slaight, launched last year, including original content like a TV show that airs on CBC and YouTube, games, and a podcast, all aimed at warding off climate doom and instead highlighting climate solutions.

Winder and Slaight have, to put it mildly, impressive resumes, with Slaight having been an executive producer of The Big Comfy Couch and Winder a force behind multiple Angry Birds movies. The show’s premise is fun, and was actually thought up by kids. The main character is a chicken (named Potato) from the year 2050, a time when climate change has seemingly been solved. She travels back and forth between the future and the present, sometimes talking about the solutions of her time.

Keep reading...Show less
Yellow
HMN Banner
Get today’s top climate story delivered right to your inbox.

Sign up for our free Heatmap Daily newsletter.