The Inflation Reduction Act – a Historic Piece of Climate and Health Legislation

On August 16th, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) [1], the greatest investment the U.S. has committed to date to confront the climate crisis. The IRA is also arguably one of the most significant pieces of health legislation passed in the U.S. in decades. This legislation has enormous potential to address climate change as a long-term health imperative and an immediate health opportunity. Climate change represents an existential threat to our survival. To avoid catastrophic impacts on our health, we must limit global temperature rise to below 1.5°C [2]. Preliminary estimates forecast that the IRA will reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 2005 levels by 2030 [3], bringing us closer to achieving the U.S.’ commitments to the global community and avoiding that critical threshold.

If implemented fully and carefully, the IRA can also save thousands of lives a year [4] from reductions in air pollution emissions alone. However, this opportunity to safeguard health is not guaranteed. The IRA includes provisions that may harm health, including subsidies for fossil fuel infrastructure and expansion of oil and gas leasing that disproportionately harm communities of color and low-wealth communities. To fully realize the potential health benefits of the IRA, health professionals must work closely with federal agencies, state governments, and communities to prevent perpetuating the harm of fossil fuels on frontline communities, and ensure that our historic climate investments prioritize health and equity.


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