Recap of President Biden’s Federal Sustainability Plan

Honor Donnie  |  January 31, 2022   |  Energy & Sustainability  


When first elected, President Joe Biden started his term with a clear agenda to fight climate change. He began his first year with a wave of executive orders and ended it with a plan. In December of 2021, the Biden administration signed an executive order that outlined the future of the climate crisis through federal sustainability. Let’s take a look at what’s to come. 

Accelerating America’s Clean Energy Economy 

One of the major takeaways from the executive order is a declaration to reduce the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade and reach net-zero by 2050. Oftentimes we see the push for net-zero emissions, but what does that really mean? It is the balancing of greenhouse gas emissions, effectively undoing their impact by taking away the same amount that we add to the atmosphere. This allows us to continue emitting greenhouse gasses where it’s unavoidable, by then offsetting those emissions to reach net-zero. 

As the president pushes for a whole-government approach to tackling the climate crisis, there are five goals he plans to accomplish: 

  • 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2030–with half of the electricity being supplied by local clean energy
  • 100 percent zero-emission vehicle investments by 2035
  • Net-zero emissions from federal acquisition no later than 2050 which will also include a ‘Buy Clean’ policy focused on promoting the use of lower embodied emissions construction materials
  • A 50 percent emissions reduction by 2032 that supports a net-zero emissions building portfolio by 2045
  • A 65 percent emissions reduction by 2030 to support the overarching goal of net-zero emissions from federal operations by 2050

In an effort to ensure efficiency across agencies, the federal government has also been directed to orient its procurement and operations efforts in line with foundational principles:

  • Implementing climate-resilient infrastructure and operations;
  • Building a workforce concentrated on climate and sustainability; 
  • Cultivating environmental justice;
  • Enforcing the purchase of sustainable products;
  • Advancing progression through both domestic and international partnerships.


Climate Resilience through Federal Agencies

The government’s operational changes to support federal sustainability will also be supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with the implementation of its sustainability plan in the upcoming years. The agency will minimize emissions from its facilities, vehicles, employee air travel, utility consumption, information technology, and more. This plan follows the agency’s original climate change commitment that was declared in October 2021, in response to Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, and the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE),  which was announced at The UN Climate Change Conference last year. 

In order to internally support sustainability efforts the agency will focus on three main things:

  • Establishing both its Climate Readiness Plan and Sustainability Plan
  • Incorporating long-term sustainability strategies and plans 
  • Investing in human resources, development, diversity, equity, and inclusion to ensure that the workforce reflects the values and objectives of the agency in order to holistically integrate climate and sustainability into its core work

With the country’s scale and procurement power, we will see a reduction in emissions across federal operations, an increase in investments in American clean energy industries and manufacturing, and the creation of clean, healthy, and resilient communities. From the White House to various federal agencies, the fight for sustainability has taken an all-hands-on-deck approach. And we’re here for it!

To stay up to date with the Biden Administration’s federal sustainability efforts, check out the briefing room.

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About Honor Donnie

Honor Donnie is a Marketing Coordinator at Urjanet, with a passion for content creation. When she’s not at Urjanet, she can be found reading, cooking, and listening to great music.

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