Why the midterms have made climate activists hopeful for the future

The outcome of the midterm elections, particularly at the state and local level, could reshape climate politics in the country over the next few years.

The midterm elections may have resulted in a divided Congress, but environmentalists still saw plenty to celebrate, with wins in several key races that could reshape climate politics in the country over the next few years.

While a Republican-controlled House likely means it will be more resistant to climate policies, experts said certain election victories — particularly at the state and local level — could be significant in helping the nation reduce emissions and transition away from fossil fuels.

At the federal level, the Democrats held onto control of the Senate, an outcome that means opponents won’t be able to dismantle President Biden’s sweeping Inflation Reduction Act, which includes hundreds of billions of dollars to fight climate change.

The law, passed in August, includes major spending to expand renewable energy production, provide incentives for electric vehicles and clean energy, and prioritize environmental justice initiatives. Its implementation will largely fall to state and local leaders, making wins by Democratic governors in places such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota important, said Caroline Spears, executive director of Climate Cabinet Action, a political action committee that aims to help climate-focused candidates in down-ballot races get elected.

“You really need leadership in these local areas to execute on the Inflation Reduction Act to the fullest extent,” Spears said. “That is going to take leadership from governors, from state legislatures and public service commissions and state and county officials to get that done.”


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