President Barack Obama, looking to bolster his legacy combating climate change, will mandate Thursday that government agencies curb their greenhouse gas emissions by 40% over the next decade.
Obama plans to sign an executive order at the White House on Thursday morning in the hopes he’ll “lead by example” in cutting the types of emissions scientists believe are contributing to global warming trends.
Afterward he planned to tour rooftop solar panels at the Department of Energy building in Washington. Last year, Obama installed similar panels on the roof of the White House.
Some federal suppliers, including IBM, General Electric and Honeywell, are also committing to reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions as part of the announcement on Thursday.
The White House says the new pledges will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 million metric tons by 2025, the same amount 5.5 million cars emit in one year. The executive order requires agencies to convert 20% of their energy supply to clean sources, reduce energy use altogether in buildings by 2.5% annually, and revamp vehicle fleets to meet new emission standards.
Obama is working toward securing global commitments on reducing greenhouse gas emissions ahead of December’s climate summit in Paris. He made a major breakthrough on that front last November in Beijing, stamping a deal with Chinese leaders to make major reductions in carbon emissions by 2030.
Officials say Obama’s environmental achievements could form a major part of his presidential legacy, since many of the rules he could enact don’t require congressional approval.
In June his Environmental Protection Agency announced a plan to reduce carbon emissions from power plants 30% by 2030, a move that spurred angry resistance from some lawmakers and governors. Several states that are reliant on revenue from coal mining filed suit against the EPA.
Republicans argue Obama’s climate moves could hurt jobs in traditional energy sectors by placing restrictions on businesses. GOP lawmakers have largely blocked any legislative action on climate, leaving Obama to achieve most of his climate goals through executive measures, including the executive order he’ll sign Thursday.
That leaves open the possibility the next president could reverse his actions, though officials downplayed those risks Thursday.
“We’re very confident that by setting clear direction, clear guidelines and incentives, that progress will continue,” said Brian Deese, Obama’s senior adviser on climate issues. “From an agency perspective, this makes great financial sense.”