Philip Ignatoff ’23 is a Physics Major who co-leads the chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby on campus. He plans to use his education to develop technologies needed to address climate change. In his free time, he likes to read, be creative and eat long meals at Sadler with friends.
Nicholas Park ’23 is a pre-medical student majoring in Biology and minoring in CAMS. He is an attending member of the chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby on campus who plans to become an infectious disease specialist, with a focus on utilizing his education to help treat patients who are directly or indirectly affected by climate change-exacerbated disasters. In his free time, he likes to read and watch science fiction and research facts and discoveries related to paleontology and extreme meteorology.
Sydney Hintz ‘26 is an Integrative Conservation and Environmental Policy double major who is a member of the chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby on campus. She hopes to work in environmental policy and science communication. She has worked with the nonprofit Planet Women and the Common Descent Podcast, and she is currently working on a docuseries on women in conservation with the Institute for Integrative Conservation and research on diel vertical migration in the pelagic ocean with VIMS. She enjoys crafting, listening to music and playing with dogs. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in the article are the author’s own.
We live in an exciting time period. In the past couple of years, Congress passed serious climate bills that are moving us towards a green future. 2021’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocates billions of dollars to Virginia to improve public transportation, install electric-vehicle charging stations, strengthen the electrical grid and bolster natural disaster defenses (BIL Source). And last year’s Inflation Reduction Act tops that. Noted as “the most significant climate change legislation in U.S. history” by the Environmental Protection Agency, the IRA is set to be the catalyst for a green economy (The Inflation Reduction Act- EPA). Climate progress is happening and impacting you. Because of this, we, members of Citizens’ Climate Lobby at the College of William and Mary, are writing to highlight the most important climate news you should know for 2023.
First, the IRA’s incentives for individuals. The IRA provides incentives for energy efficiency and electrification projects such as purchasing electric vehicles and installing home insulation, electric heating and electric stoves (Vox IRA Tax Credit). These projects are known to be the most effective ways a person can lower their carbon footprint (Electrify Everything in Your Home (rewiringamerica.org): Why Electrify?). As an added bonus, they can also lower electricity bills and improve indoor air quality. It’s important to note that this part of the act will only succeed if people take advantage of the incentives. If you want to address climate change with the IRA and bring your home’s tech into the future, we have the following suggestions for you: Use Rewiring America’s online IRA calculator to see how much money you’d get, conduct either a professional or DIY energy assessment to identify your opportunities for cashing in, and upgrade!
We realize that the majority of people reading this don’t own a house. If you fall into this category, you can still make a difference by letting other people know about the IRA’s incentives (i.e., your parents).
Next, the battle to keep Virginia in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. RGGI is a cap-and-trade program that incentivizes utility companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by charging them for the pollution they produce. The money generated is given to enhance natural disaster defenses and low-income energy efficiency projects. This policy is an effective way to address both the causes (reducing carbon emissions) and effects (natural disaster funding) of climate change (Welcome |RGGI, Inc.). Despite these benefits, Governor Youngkin’s administration is making it a priority to end Virginia’s participation in RGGI. Last December, Virginia’s State Air Pollution Control Board voted to withdraw Virginia from RGGI (RGGI Background and Withdraw vote). A legislative oversight committee objected to this decision, but nevertheless, the battle over RGGI continues (RGGI objection). Between Jan. 30 and March 31, a comment period will be open for citizens to voice their opinions on RGGI. As of Feb. 3, only 566 comments have been submitted. This means that adding your voice would matter. You can submit a comment through the following URL (https://townhall.virginia.gov/L/comments.cfm?stageid=9879). In addition to this, there will be ample opportunities this year to support RGGI (i.e., writing letters to the editor, contacting your politicians, attending rallies). The best way to learn more about these opportunities is by reaching out to an environmental organization in your area (e.g. , EDF, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Sierra Club).
Let’s not forget why we are doing this. Southwest Virginia experienced severe floods and mudslides due to excessive rainfall in July 2022, and the state’s coastal region is threatened by sea level rise (Southwest Flooding). Today, burning fossil fuels is vital to modern society. However, if this status quo continues, the stability of tomorrow’s climate will be in peril. Because of this, it’s imperative for us to take action to protect the well-being of present and future generations.
The challenges are daunting, but there is more hope now than ever before. The most effective ways Virginians can participate are by taking advantage of the IRA’s incentives and supporting RGGI. We can prevent the worst effects of climate change, and this is how you can help.