Historic investments of the Inflation Reduction Act aim to aid Black and Brown communities

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One year following the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA) passage, a $369 billion climate policy initiated by President Joe Biden, results have been slower than anticipated, and the public’s understanding of the legislation remains limited. Despite this, experts and the White House affirm the significant advantages these investments promise for Black and brown communities.

A recent survey revealed a significant proportion of Americans are uninformed about the IRA’s provisions. In response, Biden-Harris administration officials embarked on a nationwide promotional tour emphasizing the savings in energy and health costs and job opportunities in green manufacturing resulting from the IRA’s investments.

The White House has highlighted that the advantages of these investments are already being realized by Black and brown households. Supporting this, an analysis by Climate Power, a renowned climate research and polling organization, indicates that out of the 140,000 new clean energy jobs in the private sector created by the IRA tax incentives, 85,000 were filled by individuals from communities of color.

“There’s significant interest in making sure…that we’re reaching those communities,” John Podesta, Biden’s senior adviser on climate, told theGrio.

Podesta, who previously advised President Barack Obama, elaborated that the IRA’s influence extends to Black and brown communities in several ways, such as through the establishment of community solar power setups and initiating pre-apprenticeship training programs for green jobs. Moreover, the tax credits and rebate schemes aimed at promoting electric vehicle purchases and clean energy home upgrades will further lessen the financial burden for households, particularly those in the moderate and low-income brackets.

However, challenges persist, especially when it comes to educating these communities about available tax credits and promoting climate resilience. Limitations like the housing crisis and the higher ratio of renters to homeowners in Black and brown communities hinder them from fully leveraging the IRA’s tax credits.

On the backdrop of the IRA’s first anniversary, Black and brown communities continue to disproportionately face the brunt of climatic catastrophes. Events like the Maui wildfires, which resulted in over 100 casualties in Hawai’i, and tornadoes in cities like Rolling Fork, Mississippi, underscore the escalating urgency of robust climate policies.

White House representatives and climate experts concur that these disasters epitomize the pressing need for climate-focused policies such as the IRA.

According to theGrio, Sanjay Patnaik of the Brookings Institute emphasized that the frequent extreme weather events are not only an environmental concern but also an economic and risk management issue, especially for Black and brown communities. These communities often reside in areas where property values are lower, and hence are more exposed to the repercussions of the changing climate. Patnaik advocates for the implementation of carbon pricing and the IRA’s methane fee to counteract the rising economic and environmental costs of climate change. Enacting these measures would contribute to achieving the U.S. target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50–52% by 2030, while also enhancing air quality and safeguarding the health of marginalized communities.

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