On March 19, 2015, President Obama issued an executive order mandating that the federal government will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% over the next decade. The same order also requires the federal government to increase the share of renewable energy in its electricity supply to 30%. Some of the ways this will be achieved is by reducing energy use in around 360,000 federal buildings by 2.5% each year, and getting agencies to obtain 25% of their energy from carbon free sources.

On top of this, some federal suppliers, such as Honeywell and General Electric, have pledged to reduce their own carbon footprint. Together, these companies will reduce their carbon footprints by 5 million metric tons over the next decade.


All told, this is a reduction of around 26 million metric tons of emissions in 10 years. That may not sound like a lot, but it’s about the same as keeping 5.5 million cars off the road for one year. It’s a start, but it certainly won’t solve the world’s problems.

President Obama sees is as a step in the right direction, showing that the US can still grow its economy while reducing its impact on the environment and helping to fight climate change. He sees it as an example of American global leadership.

The effort will also save the government about $18 million, which is sure to make small government types happy as well. In fact, but cutting emissions 17% since 2008, the Obama administration has already saved the government about $1.8 billion.

The federal government is the largest energy consumer in the country, although it’s emissions only totaled about 0.6% of the nation’s total in 2013. Reducing emissions by the government, then, won’t make a huge difference, but it will help to set a precedent, for private businesses and, perhaps, other governments. As the largest energy consumer, the federal government works with a lot of private companies that might see the reductions as something worth emulating, at least to save money.