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Back in 2021, the US passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which promised to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, spur innovation and lead to investment opportunities for retirement savers.

Now, over two years in, the IRA is creating positive change in the real economy. Reports indicate 272 new clean energy projects in small towns and big cities nationwide, totaling US$278bn in new investments.1

Unfortunately, as the 2024 political season heats up, the IRA is being politicized, despite the economic gains it is already providing. As politicians seek to garner attention through fear mongering, we as citizens must take back control of the agenda. The potential for America to be the global leader in the sustainable revolution is too big and strategic to miss.

More important, it will unlock the potential for jobs, innovation and investment that may equal or better those created by the industrial and technology revolutions. Will America be the eagle, and see massive strategic growth, or the ostrich and bury our heads in the sand?

The challenge America should be focusing on is how we can transition to a more sustainable economy, away from today’s dominant energy and agricultural systems to ones that are equally productive but don’t lead to devastating side effects. Many companies are already making this shift, and it is exciting to see the ways in which this transition has been mapped out, and to some degree realized, for example in the deployment of solar power. The transition is accelerating, in the US and around the world, as many other countries move quickly to seize the economic benefits.

Yet every day, we hear from those commercially or politically tied to the polluting economic system defending the status quo or denying there is any problem. In doing so, they are delaying the inevitable transition, holding back job creation, ceding leadership to other economic blocs and increasing the chances the ecosystem will pass known tipping points and deteriorate more rapidly, condemning future generations to conflict over resources.

It is time for those halting economic progress to join the rest of us and focus on grasping the potential offered by the transition. Let me share three that I find most exciting: job creation, US leadership and transformational investment opportunities.

Job growth

The emerging, more sustainable economy represents an economic boon. Between August 2022 and July 2023, over 170,000 new clean energy jobs were announced or advanced across 44 US states. For example, electric battery and vehicle manufacturing, as well as solar and wind power generation, offer quality jobs with attractive wages – around 45% of which require only a high school diploma.2,3

US leadership

Denial leads to delay and delay is fundamentally un-American – our innovation and readiness to act are key strategic advantages. From the industrial revolution to the internet revolution, the US has always been at the forefront of developing and deploying new technology.

Acting (and investing) in the face of the challenge to establish a less polluting economy will allow the US to take a larger leadership role as these technologies develop and scale. Rather than relinquish this leadership to others, for example China, we must continue to invest and innovate. As one of the top two global polluters, the US has the responsibility and ability to make a massive contribution. Investing in scaling clean energy technology is both the right thing to do and the way to build and safeguard our economy.

Investment opportunity

As an asset manager, we know that wealth creation happens through innovation and effective risk management. This transition will underpin a dramatic increase in new business creation, transform existing companies that are prepared to innovate, and create a vast range of new goods and services on par with the enormously successful information technology sector.

All transformation is investable and there is widespread consensus around the scale of the economic opportunities that are emerging. If those allocating pension funds and privately owned portfolios ignore this moment, they will miss out on enormous value creation and may be abdicating their responsibilities as fiduciaries.

The US has always met challenges with innovative solutions – our nation is symbolized by the eagle, not the ostrich – and combatting pollution and stabilizing the climate are no exception. So, we must stop conceding the moment to worn out biases, grievances and politics if we are going to focus on these opportunities.

The transition to a more sustainable economy is already underway, creating jobs, leveraging our country’s innovative spirit and asserting our global leadership. Smart investors around the world are already seeing this transformation and are positioning their portfolios for the economy of the future.

Nothing presented herein is intended to constitute investment advice and no investment decision should be made solely based on this information. Nothing presented should be construed as a recommendation to purchase or sell a particular type of security or follow any investment technique or strategy. Information presented herein reflects Impax Asset Management’s views at a particular time. Such views are subject to change at any point and Impax Asset Management shall not be obligated to provide any notice. Any forward-looking statements or forecasts are based on assumptions and actual results are expected to vary. While Impax Asset Management has used reasonable efforts to obtain information from reliable sources, we make no representations or warranties as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of third-party information presented herein. No guarantee of investment performance is being provided and no inference to the contrary should be made.

1 Climate Power, 2023: One year of our clean energy boom

2 Climate Power, 2023: One year of our clean energy boom

3 “Workers in clean energy earn higher and more equitable wages when compared to all workers nationally. Mean hourly wages exceed national averages by 8 to 19 percent.” Brookings Institute, 2019: Advancing inclusion through clean energy jobs

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