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WATCH: Cries of joy as US Senate passes key Climate Change Bill

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Tears of joy swept through the halls of the United States Senate as political leaders approved one of the most important climate change bills in the world. The new bill will see that $369 billion (R5.9 trillion) is made available for climate action, the largest investment in US history.

The BBC’s North America correspondent, Peter Bowes, said that “with the US midterm elections just three months away, the bill’s passage will be seen as a boost for the Democrats.”

The new bill, part of the Inflation Reduction Act, aims to cut emissions in the United States by 40% within the next 8 years, one of the most ambitious climate targets set to date.

Incentives of the new proposed legislation will allow for certain households to receive up to $7500 (R120 000) in tax credit to buy an electric car and up to $4000 (R64 000) for a used car.

The Act forms an important part of US President Joe Biden’s development agenda and will now be sent to the Democrat-controlled House, a formality where it is expected to be signed into law by Biden before the end of this week.

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The bill passed as the US experienced deadly flooding and wildfires in recent years with the severity of these events directly linked to climate change.

The world has already warmed by about 1.1C since the industrial era began, and temperatures will keep rising unless governments around the world make steep cuts in emissions.

The BBC reported that after lengthy overnight deliberations, “Democrats cried with joy and pumped their fists in the air after the bill, a product of 18 months of intense wrangling – was passed in the Senate.”

The Inflation Reduction Act envisages raising corporate taxes and lowering healthcare costs as part of a package surpassing $700 billion (R11.2 trillion), which the White House says will pay for itself.

In order to ensure that the bill garnered the support of all 50 senators, which was the minimum requirement for the bill to pass, Democrats negotiated among themselves for months. It was Vice-President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote that helped push through the bill.

Speaking to US media after the passing of the bill, Democratic Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said: “After more than a year of hard work, the Senate is making history. To Americans who’ve lost faith that Congress can do big things, this bill is for you.“

Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, reportedly cried tears of joy as he left the chamber.

“Now I can look my kid in the eye and say we’re really doing something about the climate,” he said, according to the New York Times.

Measures included in the bill include tax credits for industries which invest in clean energy development, the creation of a new “clean energy technology accelerator” to advance renewable tech and funding to be made available for communities that have suffered the most from fossil fuel pollution.

President Biden called the bill “historic” and has pledged to return the US to the international stage on climate action. In April last year, he pledged to slash US greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030.

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