Opinion | Bill Gates: A clean energy future is in the hands of Congress

Turn on the evening news and it will immediately become clear that Americans are experiencing the effects of climate change. Extreme heat and drought are affecting tens of millions of people, as floods and wildfires devastate communities from Appalachia to California. In the days ahead, Congress has an opportunity to confront the climate crisis while strengthening our country’s energy security, creating opportunities for business, and improving the lives of Americans. We can’t afford to miss it.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 may be the most important piece of climate legislation in US history. It represents our best chance to build an energy future that is cleaner, cheaper and more secure. Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Joe Manchin of West Virginia deserve a lot of credit for getting this deal done, as do many others. Many business leaders and activists I met through Breakthrough Energy, the climate organization I founded in 2015 to accelerate the clean energy transition, have worked tirelessly for decades to achieve this moment. But while it looks like the legislation will pass, success is not guaranteed, so it’s critical to keep pushing for it. Let me explain why.

Many of the technologies we will need to reach net-zero emissions do not exist, are in early stages of development, or are still too expensive to scale up. At the same time, more mature technologies such as solar, wind and electric vehicles need to be deployed more quickly in more places. Through new and expanded tax credits and a long-term focus, this bill would ensure that critical climate solutions have sustained support to grow into new industries.

These incentives would also give the private sector the confidence to invest for the long term. This legislation would begin to transform the parts of our economy that are most difficult to decarbonize, like manufacturing, which we must do to reach net-zero emissions. As many Americans face summer blackouts, power shortages, and high electricity bills, these measures would help build a modern, reliable power grid so everyone can have access to affordable, abundant, and clean energy.

With those incentives and investments, this bill would catalyze a new era of American innovation. The ability of America’s universities and industries to innovate remains second to none, but the country risks being left behind as other countries race to build their own clean energy economies. This legislation would help turn American energy innovations into American energy industries and unlock tremendous economic opportunities in the energy market. If it becomes law, few nations would have the ability to produce local clean energy like the United States. The United States could quickly become a leader in deploying clean energy on the scale required.

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American companies are ready for this change. I have spoken with corporate leaders who are eager for our government to act. Many have made big climate promises and invested significant amounts in clean energy, both because they care about keeping their promises and because it’s good business. Even more companies are waiting on the sidelines for a strong signal from the government that clean industries are a sound long-term investment. Passing the Inflation Reduction Act would send that message and allow private capital to power our clean energy future with even greater confidence.

With President Biden’s signature, this legislation would boost and support clean energy industries that could create millions of jobs, many in communities built on fossil fuels. In fact, many of the most promising technologies in the clean energy economy will require similar skills and knowledge that today’s coal, oil and gas workers possess. This will help ensure a just transition.

Solving climate change is perhaps the most difficult challenge humanity has ever faced. It will require fundamentally transforming how we power our communities, move goods, build things, heat and cool buildings, and grow food—basically how we do everything. We need to do it quickly with a cohesive and coherent plan if we want to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

The country has an opportunity to lead by example by offering a vision of what is possible, and then making it happen. By passing this legislation, Congress would mark a moment when, despite the many challenges facing the nation, lawmakers in Washington acted with ambition and foresight to build a cleaner, healthier and more prosperous future. let’s do it

Bill Gatesthe co-founder of Microsoft, he is also the founder of innovative energy and author of “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.”

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