On 16 August, United States President Joseph Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act – the country’s most significant climate legislation to date – into law. The Act provides many benefits for individual citizens, and invests hundreds of billions of dollars in federal climate action, including funding methane detection and measurement, and new policy instruments, including introducing a new methane fee.
The Inflation Reduction Act provides $370 billion over 10 years to support clean electricity, electric vehicles, and more. With rebates, it encourages investments in energy efficiency, solar energy, and battery storage. The Act aims to save the average household $500 a year on energy bills, create 1 million new jobs, and make substantial progress toward President Biden’s goal of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035.
“With the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act, the U.S. has made history,” said Rick Duke, Deputy Special Envoy for Climate, United States. “The IRA’s climate investments and policies – like the brand-new methane fee – will accelerate the clean energy transition, ratchet down climate superpollutants, and make the world a healthier, safer place.”
The IRA’s climate investments and policies – like the brand-new methane fee – will accelerate the clean energy transition, ratchet down climate superpollutants, and make the world a healthier, safer place.”
Importantly, the measures contained in the Act will also help tackle air pollution, the greatest environmental threat to human health. A study shows the Act’s clean energy measures could reduce air pollution and prevent up to 4,000 premature deaths and 100,000 asthma attacks by 2030. In addition, the bill includes $1.5 billion to promote methane detection and measurement in the oil and gas sector and has introduced a methane fee of up to $1,500 per ton on emissions from oil and gas producers, pipeline operators and others.
“The world has no time to lose: we must decarbonize with a transition to clean energy and cut methane and air pollution now if we are to stay under 1.5°C,” said Martina Otto, Head of Secretariat of the UNEP-convened Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC). “We’re thrilled that the US, a founding CCAC member and strong supporter, has demonstrated leadership with this legislation.”
We’re thrilled that the US, a founding CCAC member and strong supporter, has demonstrated leadership with this legislation.”
This comes at the heels of the US- and EU-led Global Methane Pledge to collectively reduce human-caused methane emission which was launched at COP26 in November 2021. Rapidly reducing methane emissions from energy, agriculture, and waste can achieve near-term gains in our efforts in this decade for decisive action and is regarded as the single most effective strategy to keep the goal of limiting warming to 1.5˚C within reach while yielding co-benefits including improving public health and agricultural productivity.
Methane is at least 84 times more potent than CO2 over a 20-year time horizon, and the oil, gas and coal industry is one of the largest man-made emitters of methane.
The Climate and Clean Air Coalition and the International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO), both initiatives of UNEP, are core implementers of the Global Methane Pledge. The CCAC brings together hundreds of experienced and influential stakeholders from around the world to leverage high-level engagement and catalyze concrete actions on short-lived climate pollutants, including methane, in both the public and private sector. IMEO, which aims to bridge the methane data gap and provide near-real time, reliable, and granular data on the locations and quantity of methane emissions, builds on CCAC initiatives to strengthen global efforts to reduce methane. To achieve the Global Methane Pledge, IMEO works to provide science, collect data, and track GMP progress, while the CCAC works with environment and climate ministers from around the world to strengthen national planning processes and implementation.
“Both the Global Methane Pledge and the new U.S. Inflation Reduction Act are big, positive steps in the right direction,” said Martina Otto. “Nevertheless, there is still more work to be done to meet the Paris Agreement – especially given how quickly we’ll see the benefits of methane reduction if we act now. We look forward to working alongside the U.S. and all GMP countries to implement the Pledge and benefit from action on methane this decade.”
There is still more work to be done to meet the Paris Agreement – especially given how quickly we’ll see the benefits of methane reduction if we act now. We look forward to working alongside the U.S. and all GMP countries to implement the Pledge and benefit from action on methane this decade.”