Energy & Environment

Biden signs order for federal government to achieve net-zero by 2050

President Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order that directs the federal government to achieve a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The order also directs the federal government to use its purchasing power toward a goal of 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2030, which is five years ahead of the administration’s target of 2035 for national carbon neutrality. It further directs the government to ensure demand is met by making at least half of that energy locally produced.

Under the order, the federal government would also reduce its operating emissions by 65 percent by 2030. This is also more ambitious than the administration’s stated goal of cutting emissions by half nationwide by 2030. However, the 2050 date for full carbon neutrality within the federal government matches the administration’s goal for nationwide net-zero emissions.

Other provisions of the order include making 100 percent of federal government vehicle acquisitions zero emissions by 2035, with a goal of 2027 for light-duty vehicles.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) praised the order in a statement Wednesday afternoon, calling it “the right thing to do.”

The order “will move us closer to reaching our shared climate goals and strengthen our clean energy sector” as well as “enhance the implementation of our recently enacted bipartisan infrastructure bill, meaning more Americans getting to work in good-paying jobs,” Carper said in a statement.

The Delaware senator went on to say cooperation from states will be necessary to achieve the goals outlined in the order.

“States should follow the federal government’s lead and implement their own emissions reduction plans,” he said, adding that passing the Democratic spending package would enable the federal government to provide support to states toward those goals.

The Center for Biological Diversity, however, was critical of the scale of the order, calling it insufficient.

“2050 is an extremely weak goal for the federal government to free itself from climate-heating pollution,” CBD senior counsel Bill Snape said in a statement. It ignores existing technology and adds decades to [the General Services Administration]’s own commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2025. This is like a teenager promising to clean their room in 30 years. We need action now.”

The order comes just more than a month after the administration laid out its plans for achieving the 2050 net-zero goal at the COP26 climate summit in Scotland. Those strategies included increasing the proliferation of renewable energy in both transportation and building as well as scaling up the use of technology that pulls carbon dioxide from Earth’s atmosphere.

Updated 3:37 p.m.


Tags climate goals Joe Biden net-zero emissions Tom Carper

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