by Hank Boerner – Chair and Chief Strategist – G&A Institute
Here we are weeks into Year 2023 – and so as we plunge into the new year, we could ask, what is in store for public sector action to address critical climate change challenges?
To remind us, we are now in year three of the Biden-Harris Administration’s “Whole of Government” strategies (they took office January 2021).
Upon settling in the Oval Office President Joseph Biden quickly returned to the historic Paris Agreement that was abandoned by his predecessor.
In just a few more days, the president’s Executive Order (issued January 27 2021) created a sweeping approach to aligning Federal government strategies, action, finances and more — formalized in an Executive Order titled, “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad”.
Main sections with volumes of details for actions included:
• “Putting the Climate Crisis at the Center of US Foreign Policy and National Security”;
• “Taking a Government-Wide Approach to the Climate Crisis;
• “Use of the Federal Government Buying Power and Real Property and Asset Management”;
• “Empowering Workers Through Rebuilding Our Infrastructure for a Sustainable Economy”;
• “Empowering Workers by Advancing Conservation, Agriculture, and Reforestation”;
• “Empowering Workers Through Vitalizing Energy Communities”;
• “Securing Environmental Justice and Spurring Economic Opportunity”.
The introduction to this sweeping Executive Order stated: “The U.S. and the world face a profound climate crisis. We have a narrow moment to pursue action at home and abroad in order to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of that crisis and to seize the opportunity that tackling climate change presents.”
President Biden enlisted all of the cabinet agencies and many important organs of the Federal government in the effort, and instructed that “the buying power of Federal procurement and real property, public lands and waters, and financial programs” be aligned to support robust climate action.
Keep in mind the Federal government of the United States of America is the largest buyers of goods & services in the nation. Just think about all of the government vehicles on the road today – and the EV’s that could replace them. And the many buildings that the Federal agencies lease, rent or own. (These will have to meet new climate resilience measures.) Think about the huge purchases by the Department of Defense. And on and on!
The President explained in 2021: An “immediate, clear, and stable source of product demand, increased transparency and data, and robust standards for the market…will help to catalyze private sector investment into, and accelerate the advancement of America’s industrial capacity to supply, domestic energy, buildings, vehicles, and other [necessary] products and materials.” The stuff of the American nation’s sustainability efforts.
The power and prestige of the United States would be a priority in relations with other nations and such multilateral organizations as the G7, the G20, and other forums on climate change actions. In focus: clean energy, aviation, shipping, the oceans, the Arctic, sustainable development, and migration (a 2023 critical issue for sure).
How are we doing? We’ve selected for you a few timely updates on “how we’re doing” with the very comprehensive Biden climate crisis plan.
The recent storms battering California, the Heartland states, and coastal areas, are constant reminders of how serious the climate crisis has become. Snow, volumes of rainfall, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes (cyclones), high winds, fires and more fires — all signs the climate is changing (for the worse).
We are seeing public sector action increasing along the same lines on the European continent as well, and European Union climate change actions that will affect many U.S. multinational companies,
As we think about all of this, despite political pushback in 2032 we should not lose sight the sweep of the January 2021 Executive Order issued as the very first days of the Biden Administration.
Here’s the document for you: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/27/executive-order-on-tackling-the-climate-crisis-at-home-and-abroad/
And here is a brief example of the kinds of follow up f- rom July 2021:
Top Stories – Focus on the U.S.
Biden-Harris administration releases first-ever blueprint to decarbonize America’s transportation sector (US Department of Transportation)
What to expect on climate change from the New US Congress (Brookings Institution)
Inflation Reduction Act will see US get serious on climate action in 2023 (New Scientist)
Davos 2023: EU to counter U.S. climate game changer with own green deal (Reuters)