VoLo Foundation: Inflation Reduction Act is climate change action in disguise
A prestigious climate change conference in Orlando lauded the Inflation Reduction Act as the most aggressive investment in combating global warming the nation has ever seen.
VoLo Foundation, a nonprofit focused on supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health worldwide, brought dozens of experts to the University of Central Florida campus to highlight climate tactics and solutions within the $369 billion inflation act and discuss related successes in the worldwide effort to slow global warming.
‘“Climate change affects us all at every level, health, economy, migration, and more,” said Thais Lopez Vogel, co-founder of the foundation. “We are calling for a collaborative effort to address the crisis and emphasize the need for immediate action to prevent irreversible damage.”
The event drew speakers from the World Wildlife Fund, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Organization of American States, the Sierra Club, the World Bank, and various municipalities throughout Florida.
‘Bill raises the bar’
Dawn Shirreffs, Florida director for Environmental Defense Fund and one of the first speakers at the conference, detailed some of the ways the bipartisan Inflation Reduction Act will help dampen the effects of climate change both locally and worldwide.
“The Inflation Reduction Act is a climate bill,” she said. “It is really going to be transformative.”
Shirreffs outlined a series of tax incentives in the bill that she feels will be effective because of the way they are spread across myriad industries and state and local governments, yet still target certain sectors and individuals.
That, in turn, provides wholesale economic incentives for business and government leaders to do more than give lip service to changing the ways things are done to decrease contributions to global warming.
“It makes it personal.” she said. “The decisions are going to be happening everywhere, all the time.”
She said the IRA’s provisions could foster a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gases during the next decade while at the same time reducing the federal budget deficit by $325 billion.
“That is really huge. We can go further than we thought we could nine months ago,” Shirreffs said. “This bill raises the bar.”
‘Climate change and poverty’
Luis Tineo, program manager of the Climate Change Group at the World Bank, identified financial risks related to climate change and measures to reduce the risks as well as their underlying causes.
A main one, he said, is poverty.
“Who of us are in extreme poverty? That’s what we want to solve at the World Bank.”
Tineo went through a timeline of the slow awareness of global warming and what it may portend for mankind. Starting in the 1980s, he said, the focus was on being “green,” like recycling and other things associated with a messy planet.
“Climate was not a factor,” he said. “We had issues with pollution, if you remember, but climate and climate change, global warming, those were not words in our vocabulary.”
Now that those words are part of the international lexicon, Tineo said it’s time for personal economic conditions to be brought into the limelight.
“There is a clear relation between climate change and poverty,” he said. “So we're trying in the World Bank to alleviate poverty by bringing 800 million people up to better prosperity and, with that, then having better standards of living.”
Southwest Florida’s Babcock Ranch, the 17,600-acre community in Charlotte and Lee counties, was featured at the 5th Annual VoLo Climate Correction Conference as a model of sustainability since it withstood Hurricane Ian’s eyewall without losing power or flooding. Built 30 feet above sea level, Babcock Ranch’s design includes a hardened electricity grid, 700,000 solar panels with heavy-duty battery packs, and retaining ponds that direct water away from homes and streets.
- Tom Bayles
Less flatulent cows
A highlight of VoLo’s annual conference is the presentation by its Vista Award winner, which is a graduate student working on agricultural techniques that may make a huge contribution to slowing the growth of global warming.
This year’s winner, Wilmer Cuervo, presented his work on transforming ordinary weeds into a digestible food that will make cows less flatulent, thus reducing greenhouse gases such as methane.
Emissions from animal agriculture account for about 16 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, which equates with the contribution from cars, trucks, trains, and planes, combined.
“We can reduce the impact of methane emissions in the long term and make farmers aware that many of the weed species that they fight with agrochemicals can be an alternative,” Cuervo said in a discussion with VoLo’s Carlos Roa. “Probably in the future, maintaining these weeds will be an opportunity.”
The University of Florida graduate student discussed his project, the “Evaluation of Anti-Methanogenic Potential of Extracts From Pigweed and Tropical Soda Apple in North Florida.”
Cuervo's presentation was a hit.
Orlando mayor happy
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said VoLo’s conference in his city is a welcome event every year.
“Anytime we can bring together community leaders from a myriad of diverse perspectives, including practitioners, problem solvers and passionate advocates, we all gain new insights and strengthen our collaborative efforts in taking climate action,” Dyer said.
“To be able to convene annually at the VoLo conference allows us to continue to elevate the conversations around current challenges and find ways to further grow our sustainability and resiliency efforts.”
Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health.
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