Biden calls for carbon-neutral federal government by 2050

President Joe Biden test-drives an electric Hummer at a General Motors assembly plant in Detroit in November 2021. PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Joe Biden is to sign an order on Wednesday (Dec 8) to make the federal government carbon-neutral by 2050 via a panoply of clean-energy initiatives, including electric vehicles and environmentally friendly buildings.

The executive order, announced by the White House, directs the government to replace its fleet of petrol-guzzling vehicles with electric cars and trucks by 2035 and ensure federal buildings are carbon-free by 2045.

"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 Biden administration said in a statement.

The potential impact of the order can hardly be overstated. The government owns or leases some 300,000 buildings of all ages, and runs a fleet of 600,000 vehicles.

Aiming to achieve a 65 per cent reduction in planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions within a decade, it is the latest in a number of initiatives Mr Biden has announced to limit the country's environmental impact.

"The executive order will reduce emissions across federal operations, invest in American clean-energy industries and manufacturing, and create clean, healthy and resilient communities," the administration added.

The reforms will help Mr Biden honour his pledge to world leaders at a United Nations gathering in Glasgow last month to slash America's greenhouse gas emissions by more than half.

Mr Biden signed a sweeping infrastructure package last month that includes US$7.5 billion (S$10 billion) for a network of electric vehicle chargers and Congress is negotiating an even bigger social welfare Bill that will provide more than US$500 billion to fight climate change.

A "buy clean" programme will prioritise products made and shipped with low greenhouse gas emissions, the White House said.

But the proposals are likely to meet with opposition from business groups and Republican lawmakers who typically oppose federal measures to curb climate change.

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