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U.S. Senate gives the world 369 billion reasons for some climate optimism

The U.S. is poised to unlock $369 billion in funding and incentives to try and stop global warming.

The surprise deal came after a year of grueling negotiations among Senate Democrats to try and craft a package that could appeal to their party's main obstacle, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.

Manchin, whose family owns a coal company, advocated for a bill that would include support for fossil fuels in addition to the spending on renewable energy and infrastructure. The West Virginia Senator also wanted to include revisions to the tax code that would offset the additional spending needed to address the climate crisis.

The sweeping legislation includes policies that should boost solar and wind generation, battery technology, manufacturing of electric vehicles and other technologies focused on the electrification of industry and

“By a wide margin, this legislation will be the greatest pro-climate legislation that has ever been passed by Congress,” Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic majority leader, said in a statement announcing the bill.

Proposals for tackling global warming in the bill include tax incentives for wind, solar, geothermal, energy storage, and other zero emission technologies. There are also cash incentives or tax breaks for nuclear power plants and carbon capture, storage, and utilization technologies.

Car buyers can expect to receive a $7,500 tax credit to buy a new electric vehicle or $4,000 for a used one, according to a report in The New York Times.

The bill also includes rebates for homeowners that install heat pumps and make other energy-efficient upgrades.

"We will improve our energy security and tackle the climate crisis -- by providing tax credits and investments for energy projects. This will create thousands of new jobs and help lower energy costs in the future," President Joe Biden said in a statement after the deal was announced.

These initiatives put the US on track to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40%, according to outside analysts. That's within striking distance of the President's stated goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030.

That target is vital if the world is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. That's the threshold beyond which disastrous climate events become more commonplace, putting more stress on an already overstressed and resource-constrained world. The world has already warmed by 1.1 degrees Celsius, and the effects of that temperature change have already yielded more frequent and more deadly climate-related natural disasters.

Funding in the bill is set to transform the entire U.S. energy industry -- making it more modern, more renewable, and more resilient. It also includes financing to bring manufacturing, mining, and refining of the materials needed for renewable production onshore and reduce reliance on imports from foreign countries (most notably China), according to an analysis done by the Times.

There's $30 billion in incentives for companies to build solar panels, wind turbines, energy storage and to refine the critical rare earth elements and other minerals needed to make these technologies.

The legislation also includes funding to address environmental justice. There's $60 billion in the bill to fund initiatives specifically in low-income communities. Another $27 billion will be used to create a "green bank", which can provide low cost project financing to zero emission and energy efficient projects.

Agriculture also gets a multi-billion dollar lift to make it greener and reduce its carbon footprint.

“The entire clean energy industry just breathed an enormous sigh of relief,” said Heather Zichal, chief executive of the American Clean Power Association told the Times. “This is an 11th-hour reprieve for climate action and clean energy jobs.”

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