Big Tech giants are still largely on the sidelines when it comes to supporting the new climate bill
The climate bill in the Senate’s revenue and spending deal covers everything from incentives to buy electric vehicles to spurring the development of next-generation climate technologies, such as direct air capture. After almost two years of uncertainty and the ever-looming threat of losing the congressional majority without passing any major climate legislation, Democratic senators are finally ready to support a bill that offers incentives for crucial climate technologies.
Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced on July 27 their intention to introduce the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA22) to the Senate floor. The main objective of the bill is to cut inflation, meaning impacts will be felt at every startup and legacy company with a large overhead and a limited amount of capital. And hopefully, by every American.
The intricacies of the bill itself can be read in a plethora of other outlets already eloquently covering the general proposal. Instead, this article begins the process of asking questions about its potential impact on behalf of every stakeholder within the climate tech sector- the scientists, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and all related employees within clean energy.
What’s in the bill?
In a word, billions. The climate bill includes hundreds of billions in grants, loans, federal procurements, and tax credits for research and development, deployment, and manufacturing in clean energy, transportation, and other sectors like agriculture.
It remains to be seen whether the sprawling spending package proposed by the Senate Democrats will pass in its current form, but if so, it will mark a critical win for their efforts to address climate change. With the midterm elections approaching, and the possibility that Democrats could lose control of one or both chambers of Congress, there are concerns that the window to pass anything significant on clean energy and climate is closing.
In announcing the new agreement, Schumer asserted that the legislation “puts the US on a path to roughly 40% emissions reductions by 2030.” And experts agree the bill could be a game changer in cutting the nation’s emissions in the coming years, helping to curtail warming and extreme weather events in the coming decades.
Representatives for Google and Microsoft said neither company had a comment at this time. Neither Apple nor Meta responded to Protocol’s questions on the proposed legislation, and Amazon did not send a comment at the time of publication.
The relative silence of leading tech companies raises questions about their commitments to the ambitious decarbonization plans they’ve put forward. Many of those plans include commitments to reduce Scope 3 emissions tied to the use of their products, which are by far the biggest chunk of tech companies’ emissions.
The Inflation Reduction Act could do just that. Independent analysis by the research firm Rhodium Group said it would cut U.S. carbon emissions 31% to 44% below 2005 levels in 2030, in part due to how the legislation could help decarbonize the grid.
Some tech companies worked behind the scenes to get Business Roundtable, a trade group for major corporations, to drop its opposition to the Build Back Better Act. Yet the legislation still died. With a razor-thin margin in the Senate, Democrats will need all hands on deck to pass the Inflation Reduction Act. Having the tech industry throw its entire weight behind it could help steer the bill toward passage- and show just how serious Big Tech is about meeting the climate moment.
Protocol asked major tech companies for their reactions and specifically whether they plan to lobby in favor of the bill. All of those contacted- Amazon and AWS, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft, and Salesforce- have made net zero commitments, and in some cases are even more ambitious with their decarbonization plans.