Obama Vows to Cut Federal Greenhouse Gases 40 Percent

President Barack Obama addresses a joint session of Congress on the State of the Unioon January 2015 (Photo courtesy NASA)


WASHINGTON, DC, March 22, 2015 (ENS) – President Barack Obama is using his executive authority to control the climate-warming greenhouse gases emitted by operations of the federal government. His climate-saving actions have inspired a host of private sector government suppliers to follow suit.

On Thursday, the President signed an executive order that aims to cut the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent from the 2008 levels within the next 10 years – saving U.S. taxpayers up to $18 billion in avoided energy costs, according to the White House.

lights White House
Lights from the Oval Office are seen from the snow-covered grounds of the White House, March 5, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The order also sets the goal of increasing the share of electricity that the federal government uses from renewable sources to 30 percent within the next 10 years.

“These are ambitious goals, but we know that they’re achievable goals,” said Obama during a visit to the Department of Energy, where he toured new rooftop solar panels.

“Those panels are not just for show,” said the President. “They produce power that the government doesn’t then have to buy off the grid. And more and more businesses and more and more homeowners are following suit not because it’s simply good for the environment, but because it’s good for their bottom lines.”

Obama told the audience that included U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, “Thanks in part to the investments that we’ve made over the past six years, the United States is rapidly becoming a leader in solar energy. Last year was the biggest year for solar power in our history. And, in fact, the solar industry is adding jobs 10 times faster than the economy as a whole.”

“So we’re proving that it is possible to grow our economy robustly while at the same time doing the right thing for our environment and tackling climate change in a serious way,” said Obama, who said that last year the federal government used less energy than at any time in the past four decades.

With a footprint that includes 360,000 buildings, 650,000 fleet vehicles, and $445 billion spent annually on goods and services, the federal government’s actions to reduce pollution, support renewable energy, and operate more efficiently can make a big impact on national emissions.

Jefferson Memorial
Jefferson Memorial, Washington, DC, Jan. 17, 2015 (Photo by Trevor Klatko)

Since the federal government is the single largest consumer of energy in the country, federal emissions reductions and progress across the supply chain also will have broad impacts.

The new commitments support the United States’ pledge to cut net greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, which President Obama first announced in November 2014 as part of an historic agreement with China to cut emissions.

A roundtable at the Energy Department hosted by the Obama Administration drew top executives from some large companies that do business with the federal government such as IBM, General Electric and Northrop Grumman, making similar commitments.

“Some of our biggest Fortune 100 companies are setting their own ambitious goals,” said Obama. “They’re giving a boost to the industry as a whole, because as we get economies of scale, and demand for solar and wind and other renewable energies grows, obviously that can help drive down the overall price, make it that much more efficient, and we start getting a virtuous cycle that is good for the economy and creates jobs here in America.”

Obama said that because their actions will affect their suppliers, what these large companies do with respect to energy efficiency will have “a ripple effect throughout the economy. And we’re very pleased with that.”

IBM, one of the world’s largest providers of IT services and solutions, announced two new goals:
• Reduce CO2 emissions associated with IBM’s energy consumption 35 percent by year-end 2020 against base year 2005. This represents a new 20 percent reduction.

• Procure electricity from renewable sources for 20 percent of IBM’s annual electricity consumption by 2020. IBM will contract over 800,000 megawatt-hours per year of renewable electricity – an amount that can power a city of 100,000 people. The company will match its purchased renewable electricity directly to its operations as opposed to purchasing renewable energy certificates as offsets, making a clear connection between purchases and consumption.

IBM has been working on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reporting results for 25 years, avoiding three million metric tons of CO2 emissions through conservation actions between 1990 and 2005 – an amount equal to 40 percent of its 1990 emissions.

President Barack Obama addresses a joint session of Congress on the State of the Unioon January 2015 (Photo courtesy NASA)

GE, a global infrastructure and finance company, launched a line of environmentally responsible products in 2005 to accelerate innovation and growth in a resource-constrained world. GE Thursday announced 2020 commitments to invest a cumulative $25 billion in R&D and reduce water and greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from a 2011 baseline.

Honeywell, a global technology and manufacturing company, exceeded its first public goal to reduce greenhouse gases by more than 30 percent from a 2004 baseline in 2011, and then achieved an additional 15 percent per dollar of revenue reduction from 2011 levels by 2014, three years earlier than planned. By 2019 Honeywell expects to achieve an additional 10 percent per dollar of revenue reduction from 2013 levels.

SRA International, a provider of information technology solutions and professional services to government organizations,announced a goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent by FY 2020 relative to a FY 2007 baseline.

Humana Inc., a health and well-being company, announced that it will work to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by five percent from 2015 through 2017, from a 2013 baseline.

CSC, a next-generation information technology services and solutions provider, confirmed its intention to meet an absolute global greenhouse gas reduction target of 18 percent by 2018 against a 2012 baseline.

AECOM, a global infrastructure design, build, finance and operating services firm, announced it will identify the greenhouse gas issues relevant to its operations by October 2015 and set reduction targets for 2018.

Science Applications International Corporation, a technology integrator for government and select commercial customers, announced that it plans to publicly disclose its greenhouse gas emissions for calendar year 2014 to establish a baseline for emissions and to set a goal for a new greenhouse gas reduction target by March 2016.

HP, one of the world’s largest providers of information technology infrastructure, software, services, and solutions, set a goal to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by 20 percent by 2020, compared to 2010 levels.

Northrop Grumman Corporation, a global security company, announced its 2020 environmental sustainability goals: to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent from 2010 levels; to reduce water consumption by 20 percent from 2014 levels; and to achieve a 70 percent solid waste diversion rate.

United Technologies Corporation, a global aerospace and commercial building industries company, has reduced greenhouse gas emissions in its own operations by more than 30 percent since 2007. Later this year UTC says it will release new goals to be achieved by 2020.

CH2M HILL, an employee-owned global consulting firm, set an absolute greenhouse gas reduction goal of 25 percent between 2012 and 2017 for global operations and is well over halfway toward meeting the 2017 target.

ADS Inc., a provider of operational equipment, procurement, and logistics solutions to the Department of Defense and other federal agencies, plans to rapidly expand its environmentally friendly product offering and to actively begin promoting green technologies such as flex-fuel and hybrid power generation, micro grid systems, solar and wind fuel systems. ADS plans to benchmark its internal energy and fuel consumption and put forth a reduction plan in 2015.

Battelle, a nonprofit research and development organization, announced that it is committed to reporting greenhouse gas emissions beginning in 2016. Battelle is also setting a goal to reduce emissions by 25 percent by the year 2025.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2015. All rights reserved.


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