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

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FILE – In this Thursday, April 29, 2010 file photo, a pair of coal trains idle on the tracks near Dry Fork Station, a coal-fired power plant being built by the Basin Electric Power Cooperative near Gillette, Wyo. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)

(The Hill) — President Joe 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% 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% 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% of federal government vehicle acquisitions zero emissions by 2035, with a goal of 2027 for light-duty vehicles.

Senate Environment & Public Works Committee Chair 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 reconciliation spending package would enable the federal government to provide support to states toward those goals.

The order comes just over 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 increased proliferation of renewable energy in both transportation and building, as well as scaling up use of technology that pulls carbon dioxide from Earth’s atmosphere.

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