Executive Order Could Tackle Climate Emissions from Federal Food Purchasing
WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, December 8, President Biden issued an Executive Order to leverage its federal purchasing power to advance the administration’s climate mitigation and environmental sustainability goals. The Executive Order includes a commitment to increase the sustainability of federal supply chains, including achieving a 65 percent reduction in emissions from federal procurement by 2030.
To achieve that reduction target, the federal government will need to focus on reducing emissions associated with a major – yet often neglected – category of emissions: food. The food system accounts for approximately one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and is the largest source of U.S. methane emissions. Yet until now, the federal government had no demand-side strategies in place for reducing these emissions.
“We applaud President Biden’s pledge to slash emissions associated with federal procurement. To be successful, the federal government will need to prioritize GHG reductions associated with the billions of dollars of federal government food purchases for children in schools, military service members, veterans, people incarcerated in federal prison, and seniors,” said Chloë Waterman, senior program manager at Friends of the Earth. “If implemented effectively across all sectors, this Executive Order will be the most meaningful policy we’ve seen from the Biden Administration thus far to address the food system’s massive climate impact. In the same way the federal government helped build the market for clean energy through its procurement policies, it can spur a climate-friendly food system by purchasing low-carbon foods and food grown with regenerative, organic practices.”
Friends of the Earth’s senior international forests program manager Jeff Conant added, “We’re hopeful that the administration’s efforts to curb climate impacts in procurement will include measures to address global deforestation and forest degradation, which is responsible for up to 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.”
The announcement also includes a plan to require major public suppliers to publicly disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and set science-based targets to reduce emissions. A survey conducted by Ceres earlier this year found that only six of 37 large U.S. food companies are disclosing their supply chain emissions.
“Requiring major federal food suppliers to disclose their supply chain greenhouse gas emissions and work towards a science-based reduction target would be a gamechanger,” added Waterman.