President Barack Obama on Thursday signed an executive order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by the federal government by 40 percent over the next decade, a move made as part of his administration’s efforts to fight climate change.
The executive order also set a target for 30 percent of the electricity consumed by the federal government to come from renewable sources.
In addition, according to the White House, the efforts will be complemented with “commitments” by companies such as IBM, GE, Honeywell and Hewlett Packard, which are among the main service providers to the federal government and which will also reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Obama made no statement upon signing the order at the White House, but afterwards he went to the Department of Energy, where he visited a solar panel installation on the building’s roof and emphasized that the United States is becoming a “leader” in solar energy production.
“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,” said Obama, noting that his administration is proving that “it is possible” for the economy to grow while doing “the right thing” to fight climate change “in a serious way.”
The goals established in the executive order issued on Thursday are “ambitious,” but they are also “achievable,” he said.
According to the White House, the combined efforts of the government and the firms who have made commitments to do so will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 million metric tons by 2025 compared with the levels emitted in 2008.
That is equivalent to removing almost 5.5 million automobiles from the nation’s road in one year.
The measures implemented on Thursday strengthen the commitment announced by Obama last November for the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by between 26-28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025, an effort that is part of an ambitious agreement with China.
This high-level agreement between Washington and Beijing seeks to promote a global pact before the climate change conference to be held in Paris in December.
That conference is aimed at achieving a global agreement on climate change that, starting in 2020, can replace the Kyoto protocol.
It will be the first time in the more than 20 years of climate change negotiations that all countries – both developed and developing – will have to commit themselves to concrete efforts to tackle this global problem.
Nevertheless, some developing countries to date have been reticent to announce significant contributions to the effort, feeling that a certain energy consumption level is inevitable for economic growth and that greater efforts should be made by the richest nations and those that generate the most greenhouse gases.
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asked emerging nations not to repeat “the mistakes” that Washington and other great powers made in the past and to decisively commit themselves this year to reducing carbon emissions and using clean energy sources.