President Joe Biden will sign an executive order Wednesday directing the federal government to get to net-zero emissions by 2050, using the power of the federal purse to buy clean energy, purchase electric vehicles and make federal buildings more energy efficient.
The executive order represents something significant the administration can do on its own to meet the President’s ambitious climate goals as his climate and economic package is negotiated in Congress.
The federal government maintains 300,000 buildings, drives 600,000 cars and trucks in its vehicle fleet and spends hundreds of billions of dollars each year. As Biden attempts to spur a clean energy transformation in the US, leveraging federal buying power is one way to start the transition.
The order sets several interim targets. It asks for a 65% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and 100% clean electricity by 2030. It also directs the federal government to purchase only zero-emissions light-duty vehicles by 2027, and all government vehicles must be zero-emissions by 2035.
The order also directs the federal government to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of federal buildings by 50% by 2032, and getting buildings to net-zero by 2045.
“True leaders turn adversity into opportunity, and that is exactly what President Biden is doing with this executive order today,” Sen. Tom Carper, the Democratic chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said in a statement. “Putting the weight of the federal government behind reducing emissions is the right thing to do.”
“States should follow the federal government’s lead and implement their own emissions reduction plans,” Carper added.
A White House fact sheet included several specific projects that are already planned. The Department of Defense is completing a solar energy project for its Edwards Air Force Base in California. The Department of Interior is beginning to transition its US Park Police fleet to 100% zero-emissions vehicles in certain cities, and the Department of Homeland Security is planning to field test the Ford Mustang Mach-E electric vehicle for its law enforcement fleet.
This story has been updated with more details about the executive order.