Obama orders US Government to almost triple renewable energy use to 20% by 2020

Clare Saxon Ghauri
6 December 2013

NEW YORK: Today President Obama ordered the Federal Government to nearly triple its clean energy consumption and get 20% of its electricity from renewables by 2020, in order to 'lead by example' in creating a low carbon economy.

Obama has signed a Memorandum of Understanding that orders all federal agencies, civilian and military, to meet a renewable energy goal which is twice the country’s current level--to 20% renewables by 2020--in order to cut pollution, promote American energy independence and boost home-grown energy built by American workers.

The Memorandum states: “In order to create a clean energy economy that will increase our Nation's prosperity, promote energy security, combat climate change, protect the interests of taxpayers, and safeguard the health of our environment, the Federal Government must lead by example. During my Administration, Federal agencies have reduced their annual greenhouse gas emissions by more than 15% (7.8 million metric tons)--the equivalent of removing 1.5 million cars from the road. Today I am establishing new goals for renewable energy as well as new energy-management practices.”

The directive will have a huge impact, as the US Federal Government is the country's biggest energy consumer, spending billions on fuel each year.

The move implements a bold goal set out in Obama’s Climate Action Plan which was announced in June, that first challenged Federal agencies to more than double renewable electricity consumption by 2020. 

In 2009, Obama initially directed the Federal Government to become a 'clean energy and efficiency leader' with an Executive Order that included various aggressive targets, many of which have been reached. The government has since reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 15% from 2008 levels and in 2013, consumed more than 7% of its electricity from renewable energy sources. As part of America's heavy clean energy investments, the Department of Defense has also deployed 3 GW of renewable energy installments on Army, Navy and Air Force land, which is enough to power 750,000 homes.

To help continue their progress, today Federal agencies released their fourth yearly Sustainability Plan.

The President's Memorandum and Federal agencies' Sustainability Plan follow a week of fresh clean energy actions from the Administration, including:

  • The US Department of Energy and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development launched the Better Buildings Accelerators, a program to support state and local government efforts to reduce energy waste, as well as energy efficiency upgrades of Federal buildings at no cost to taxpayers. 
  • A Fuel Economy Guide for consumers about choosing fuel efficienct vehicles for personal and business use was released.
  • The US Department of Agriculture announced it will lend up to US$250 million to business and residential customers for energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy systems.

Continuing to steam ahead with both clean energy investment and climate action, last month President Obama also established a Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to help American communities adapt to the impacts of climate change. The Task Force, which is made up of America's state and local leaders, will advise the Administration on how the Federal Government should help communities in the US to deal with the impacts of climate change. 

Read Obama's Memorandum.

Related news:

Obama commits to regulating power plants in climate action plan

US President Obama: "A low carbon, clean energy economy can be an engine of growth for decades to come"

Obama's Hurricane Sandy Taskforce releases plan for rebuilding America's resiliency

By Clare Saxon 




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