The new Administration is off to a great start! The existential threat of climate change is finally getting the federal attention it requires. On January 27, President Biden issued a wide-ranging executive order that declared an all-of-government approach to fighting climate change, integrating it into actions across every agency and taking back global leadership. In his visionary words, “It is the policy of my Administration to organize and deploy the full capacity of its agencies to combat the climate crisis to implement a Government-wide approach that reduces climate pollution in every sector of the economy.”
Biden committed to a goal of making our electricity carbon-free by 2035 and the full United States economy carbon neutral by 2050. This is beyond great news, and it has been a long time coming. Back in 2005, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger committed California to an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050, which was radical and visionary at the time. Now, at long last, it’s been topped by the federal government.
In particular, Biden committed to using the purchasing power of the government to drive forward the market by transitioning to 100% electric for its fleet of 645,000 vehicles—not a simple task. This is a powerful message to manufacturers on where this country is headed. The proof is that the next day CEO Mary Barra of General Motors—America’s biggest car manufacturer—committed the firm to shift to 100% BEVs by 2035.
America has been on track for the past few years to lose its auto manufacturing sector. Germany and China have been investing heavily in EVs while we have argued whether climate change is real. Tesla, the global EV leader, recently built a factory in China and now has one under construction in Germany (fortunately Texas is next at bat). We also lag far behind Europe and China in plans for expanded battery manufacturing. Without batteries, you can’t build EVs.
This new federal commitment to buying EVs will help a lot, but a range of policies must come along with it to spur EV manufacturing, build out infrastructure, invest in batteries, and educate the public about the vehicles. Plug In America has called for the creation of a transportation electrification czar inside the White House to coordinate all of these policies.
And lastly, the solid underpinning for all of this is to commit to putting a plug on every new car and truck by the end of the decade. Well done, President Biden, but keep going!