Former Vice President Joe Biden on Friday signed an executive order to make the U.S. government carbon neutral by 2050 and urged other public bodies to do the same.
“I know this sounds impossible,” Biden said at the signing ceremony for the order in front of the National Archives. “But when we say we can, it means it’s doable.”
But how can the government produce all carbon-free emissions from 2016 to 2050 and keep growing the number of employees during the course of the order?
“I want all of us — meaning all elected officials, all public servants — to recognize that green jobs are here and they are growing,” Biden said. “They are for all of us.”
He said he has plans to establish a program to help the public achieve its targets and to align the government’s regulatory, legislative and regulatory policy with the goals of the order.
The order lays out targets for government agencies to reduce their carbon emissions by reducing energy use in office spaces and making equipment more efficient, and by building more “sustainable facilities,” expanding public bike share programs and adding public transit.
Biden announced the goals of the order at the dedication of a new headquarters office of the Environmental Protection Agency at 2125 Rayburn House Office Building.
Biden previously pledged to make the vice presidency an executive post, effective next year, and said he plans to work with members of Congress and other elected officials to pass legislation similar to the directive.
“There is no substitute for having a leader with executive authority,” Biden said. “Whether it’s through legislation or through the president of the United States or through the vice president of the United States, there has to be an administrator in there who can step in and do the job,” he said.
Biden said the government should take steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions, such as more support for research, engineering and the development of new technologies.
“I’m a big believer that the way to fight climate change is to make it possible for more people to go solar, more people to ride trains and buses, more people to use cars that run on alternative fuel, more people to put solar panels on their roofs,” Biden said.
But the government shouldn’t have to wait until the global climate system stabilizes in the next 20 years to implement the order, he said.
“This order is about U.S. leadership now,” Biden said. “We’re always learning and we’re always trying to invent and improve but we need to do that right now and today.”
Earlier this week, Biden suggested to reporters that he could be the best presidential candidate for 2020 if he decides to throw his hat in the ring.
Biden has been known to joke about a possible run for president. Biden declared in 2016 that he was no longer considering running for president, but remains popular in the Democratic Party.
“Nobody asked me to run,” Biden said at a New Hampshire campaign stop in 2016. “And if anyone does, I’ll be very happy to listen.”