As part of a broad-ranging effort to cut carbon emissions over the course of his second term, President Obama is set to announce a plan today for federal agencies to triple their use of renewable energy by 2020. If the goal is accomplished, it will see the government source an impressive 20 percent of its electricity from renewables, marking further progress by the White House to “lead by example” in efforts to curb climate change.
Photo via Shutterstock
According to the AP, the “federal government occupies nearly 500,000 buildings, operates 600,000 vehicles and purchases more than $500 billion per year in goods and services,” which amounts to some pretty substantial emissions. Currently the government sources 7.5 percent of it’s electricity from renewable energy, but today’s announcement looks for that amount to triple to 20 percent within just seven years. (It is not presently clear how this ties into President Obama’s 2010 goal that the federal government cut carbon emissions by 28 percent by 2020).
So far there are few details as to how this goal is to be accomplished, but more optimistic onlookers might view this as one of the more promising developments in Obama’s oft-confusing “all-of-the-above” strategy for U.S. energy independence. Indeed, it follows an emerging trend towards renewable energy within individual sectors of federal government. The Department of Defense already has goals to meet 25 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2025, while the government has invested $4 billion in making its buildings more efficient. These changes, among others, have seen federal agencies reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent since 2009.
The key point to today’s announcement, however, is Obama’s determination to “lead by example.” Certainly, for the U.S. government to source 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources is a step in the right direction. In addition to reducing their impact on the environment, the government will demonstrate the importance of wind and solar energy sources to U.S. energy independence and job creation. And it is this, perhaps more than an argument for restoring and preserving our ecosystems, that will encourage more sectors to invest in renewable energy.