While on his campaign trail, Joe Biden guaranteed to use the federal government’s $500 billion-per-year buying power to “drive towards 100 percent tidy power as well as zero-emissions cars.”
Fast forward to earlier this month and President Biden signed an executive order that demonstrates how the United States will leverage its scale and procurement power to lead in tackling the climate crisis.
The executive order seeks to reduce emissions across federal operations, invest in American clean energy industries and manufacturing, and create clean, healthy, and resilient communities. The President is building on his whole-of-government effort to tackle the climate crisis in a way that creates well-paying jobs, grows industries, and makes the country more economically competitive.
The order directs the federal government to use its scale and procurement power to achieve five ambitious goals:
- 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity (CFE) by 2030, at least half of which will be locally supplied clean energy to meet 24/7 demand;
- 100 percent zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) acquisitions by 2035, including 100 percent zero-emission light-duty vehicle acquisitions by 2027;
- Net-zero emissions from federal procurement no later than 2050, including a Buy Clean policy to promote the use of construction materials with lower embodied emissions;
- A net-zero emissions building portfolio by 2045, including a 50 percent emissions reduction by 2032; and
- Net-zero emissions from overall federal operations by 2050, including a 65 percent emissions reduction by 2030.
Interestingly, the order urges the federal government to ‘orient’ its entire procurement process to include five new principles and goals. This signals a deeper strategic shift towards leveraging procurement to assist with tackling climate change.
The five additional principles and goals:
- Achieving climate-resilient infrastructure and operations;
- Building a climate- and sustainability-focused workforce;
- Advancing environmental justice and equity;
- Prioritizing the purchase of sustainable products, such as products without added perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS); and
- Accelerating progress through domestic and international partnerships.
You can read more about the executive order here
There is incredible potential for any government to leverage its buying power to positively affect social and environmental change. Let’s hope we see other governments globally follow Biden’s lead.
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