The Columbus Dispatch

US government plans to be carbon neutral by 2050

- Matthew Daly

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order to make the federal government carbon-neutral by 2050, aiming for a 65% reduction in planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and an all-electric fleet of car and trucks five years later.

The White House said the order shows how the government will “leverage its scale and procuremen­t power to lead by example in tackling the climate crisis.” The order will reduce emissions across federal operations, as part of a government-wide effort to confront climate change.

“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.

It directs that government buildings use 100% carbon pollution-free electricit­y by 2030; that the U.S. fleet of cars and trucks become all-electric by 2035; and that federal contracts for goods and services be carbon-free by 2050.

Government buildings should be carbon-free by 2045, including a 50% emissions cut by 2032, Biden said.

The executive action is a part of Biden’s commitment to support the growth of clean energy and clean technology industries, while accelerati­ng U.S. progress toward achieving a carbon pollution-free electricit­y sector by 2035, the White House said in a statement.

Through the executive order, the government will transform its portfolio of 300,000 buildings, fleet of 600,000 cars and trucks and annual purchasing power of $650 billion in goods and services to achieve net-zero emissions over the next three decades, the White House said.

“The United States government will lead by example to provide a strong foundation for American businesses to compete and win globally in the clean energy economy while creating wellpaying, union jobs at home,” the statement said.

Environmen­tal groups generally hailed the order, although some questioned the 30-year time frame to achieve net-zero emissions.

The order sets “a bold benchmark for electricit­y procuremen­t” and puts the government’s “immense buying power to work advancing critical carbonfree technologi­es,” said Lindsey Baxter Griffith, 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,” Griffith said.

But to Bill Snape, a lawyer at the Center for Biological Diversity, another environmen­tal group, “2050 is an extremely weak goal for the federal government to free itself from climatehea­ting 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% 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.

Government buildings should be carbon-free by 2045, including a 50% emissions cut by 2032,

President Joe

Biden said.

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