When it came to climate change, 2022 offered some reasonably good news and some pretty alarming bad news. On the plus side, the U.S. passed its most significant piece of climate legislation ever, with the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) — a bill that allocates hundreds of billions of dollars to clean energy and other low-emissions projects and, if fully realized, could take a big chunk out of the country’s carbon footprint.
But zooming out, the picture wasn’t all that rosy: The war in Ukraine and worries about a global recession helped spur resurgences in coal and other fossil use and investment, muddying the waters for the ongoing clean energy transition.
So where does that leave us as we head into 2023? Grid asked climate experts to weigh in on key climate policies and other developments they’re watching as we head into the new year.
One thing they can agree on: With every year that passes and every ton of carbon dioxide emitted, the chances of keeping to global temperature goals set forth in the Paris Agreement and averting the most widespread of catastrophes grow dimmer.
“Some progress on reducing emissions would be good,” said Gavin Schmidt, a NASA climate scientist and director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. In spite of the nearly universally acknowledged urgency, 2022 will go down as the biggest-ever year for global emissions.
Here’s a look at what happened in 2022 and what we can expect in 2023.
Turning legislation into action
Experts say the IRA is entering what could be a dangerous implementation phase — more dangerous because the party that voted against the bill’s passage now takes over half of Congress.
According to reporting from the New York Times, oil and gas lobbyists already have plans to help gut some portions of the IRA, which includes around $370 billion for clean energy, energy efficiency improvements and other climate-related goodies. The GOP may try to halt a program with more than $4 billion allocated to low- and middle-income households for the installation of heat pumps, induction stoves and other climate-friendly devices.
Also, some experts and activists are concerned that the IRA could allow further development of dirtier energy.