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Tyler Cowen

Democrats' Climate Bill Is a Clean Energy Dream. That's Not Enough.

The Inflation Reduction Act’s wind and solar subsidies are only the shiny, happy part of fighting global warming. What about cutting carbon?

Welcome to the promised land.

Welcome to the promised land.

Photographer: David McNew/Getty Images

I can think of four major approaches to fighting climate change, and the new Inflation Reduction Act uses only one of them: Subsidizing green energy. The bill does this by offering consumers incentives for electric vehicles and heat pumps and also by directly subsidizing research and development for solar power, nuclear power, wind power, energy storage, and even new research into geothermal alternatives. These are all sexy initiatives, but they’re the “feel-good” part of fighting climate change. That’s not enough.

Here’s the issue: More green energy does not solve climate change problems at the relevant global level. We need more green energy and fewer carbon emissions. Currently we are on a track where total energy consumption is due to rise, and the world will have both more green energy and more carbon emissions, moving along a never-ending upward spiral.