President Biden orders 100% carbon-free electricity purchases across federal operations by 2030
On December 8, President Biden signed a executive order that shows how the United States will leverage its scale and purchasing power to lead by example in tackling the climate crisis. The executive order will reduce emissions from federal operations, invest in U.S. clean energy industries and manufacturing, and create clean, healthy and resilient communities. The president is building on his entire administration’s efforts to tackle the climate crisis in ways that create high-paying jobs, grow industries and make the country more economically competitive.
The president’s executive order directs the federal government to use its scale and purchasing power to achieve five ambitious goals:
- 100% carbon-free electricity (CFE) by 2030, at least half of which will be supplied locally with clean energy to meet demand 24/7;
- purchase 100% zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) by 2035, including 100% zero-emission light commercial vehicles by 2027;
- Net zero emissions from federal procurement by 2050, including a Buy Clean policy to promote the use of construction materials with lower embodied emissions;
- An emission-free building portfolio by 2045, including a 50% emission reduction by 2032; and
- Net zero emissions from total federal operations by 2050, including a 65% reduction in emissions by 2030.
In addition to the five new commitments that form the pillars of today’s executive action, the President has also instructed the federal government to orient its procurement and operational efforts in accordance with the following principles and goals:
- Realizing climate-resilient infrastructure and operations;
- Build a climate and sustainability-oriented workforce;
- Promoting environmental justice and equity;
- Prioritize the purchase of sustainable products, such as products with no added perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS); and
- Accelerate progress through domestic and international partnerships.
Today’s executive action is part of the president’s wider commitment to increase investment in US manufacturing industries and workers to better build the country. By transforming the way the federal government builds, buys, and manages its assets and operations, the federal government will support the growth of America’s clean energy and clean technology industries, while continuing U.S. progress toward achieving a zero-carbon footprint. electricity sector is accelerated by 2035.
The Center for Biological Diversity was not satisfied with this long-term goal.
“2050 is an extremely weak target for the federal government to rid itself of pollution from climate heating. It ignores existing technology and adds decades to GSA’s own commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2025. This is like a teenager who promises to clean up his room in 30 years. We need action now,” Bill Snape, senior advisor at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), said in a statement.
CBD recently filed a petition asking the General Services Administration (GSA) administrator to issue a rule that would commit the federal real estate portfolio to 100% renewable electricity sources by 2025. This comes after GSA itself announced on Earth Day 2021 committed to using 100% renewable electricity sources for the federal real estate portfolio by 2025.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, on the other hand, had a positive response to the order.
“The federal government is the largest customer in the world. This aligns the government’s massive purchasing power with the country’s climate goals. Switching to clean energy – in federal buildings, vehicles and power purchases – and using clean building materials for infrastructure projects will accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. It will help scale up efficiency and renewable energy. And it goes along with the climate investments enshrined in the Build Back Better Act to put the country on the path to achieving the carbon reductions we need,” John Bowman, NRDC general manager of public affairs, said in a statement.
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