Politics

President Biden signs executive order requiring federal government to be carbon neutral by 2050

In an executive order signed on Wednesday, President Joe Biden set new goals for the government to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 65 percent by the end of this decade and to zero out federal emissions by 2050.

The order puts the U.S. in line with global targets to reach net-zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century. Biden’s order also establishes a “Buy Clean” policy, directing the federal government to use lower-emissions construction materials. It calls for the government to use 100 percent clean electricity by 2030.

“The executive order will reduce emissions across federal operations, invest in American clean energy industries and manufacturing, and create clean, healthy, and resilient communities,” the White House said.

“As the single largest land owner, energy consumer and employer in the nation, the federal government can catalyze private-sector investment and expand the economy and American industry by transforming how we build, buy and manage electricity, vehicles, buildings and other operations to be clean and sustainable,” the order said.

The White House said the order will utilize the nation’s 300,000 government buildings, 600,000 cars and trucks, and the country’s yearly purchasing of about $650 billion in goods and services to reduce emissions.

The White House said the order demonstrates how the government will “leverage its scale and procurement power to lead by example in tackling the climate crisis.” 

The order sets “a bold benchmark for electricity procurement” and puts the government’s “immense buying power to work advancing critical carbon-free technologies,” said Lindsey Baxter Griffith, federal policy director of the Clean Air Task Force, an advocacy group.

“We’re pleased to see the U.S. federal government, which is the largest electricity purchaser in the nation, focus on fully decarbonizing electricity (and) investing in solutions that will work across our grid every hour of every day,” Griffith said.

Bill Snape, a lawyer at the Center for Biological Diversity, another environmental group, was less enthusiastic about the plan “2050 is an extremely weak goal for the federal government to free itself from climate-heating pollution.”

The order “ignores existing technology” and adds decades to a commitment by the General Services Administration, which oversees government purchasing and real estate, to move to 100 percent renewable energy by 2025, Snape said. “This is like a teenager promising to clean their room in 30 years. We need action now,” he said.

ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: GRIST.COM

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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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