President Joe Biden of the United States has signed an executive order that lays out how the government wants to combat carbon emissions. The document reveals that billions of dollars will be spent in the march toward carbon neutrality.
This is a marathon and not a sprint, as the goal is set for 2050. However, multiple milestones along the line will help the government track its progress.
In 2027, the federal government will put an end to adding internal combustion engine passenger cars to its fleet. By 2035, all gas-powered cars would have been swapped out completely. By 2030, all federal entities are ordered to have reduced their contributions to greenhouse gases by 65 percent and achieve complete carbon neutrality by 2050.
To achieve the last goal, the government estimates 10 GW of electricity from clean sources would have to be added to the grid by 2030. Federal facilities are expected to cut their carbon emissions by half by 2032 and be carbon neutral by 2045.
While 2050 may be too far away or too close, depending on who you ask, President Biden’s timeline is in line with scientists’ discoveries that claim the world as a whole has to take drastic actions to prevent catastrophic climate changes. Biden had wasted no time rejoining the Paris Accord that his predecessor, ex-President Donald Trump, pulled the country out. Trump had also reversed some of the gains recorded in regulating tailpipe emissions from gas-powered automobiles.
It is essential for the US to take action as it is responsible for the second-largest share of greenhouse gases, with China in the first position.
The executive order is in line with Biden’s campaign promise to introduce US-made electric vehicles into the federal government fleet. This is not insignificant, as the government has more than 650,000 vehicles in its employment. The figure includes a quarter of a million civilian vehicles and more than 200,000 post office vehicles. The fleet is a substantial source of greenhouse gases, as they covered more than 4 billion miles in 2020, a year that saw many lockdowns.
The government has shown its commitment by beginning the transition to electric vehicles itself, with the Interior Department and US Park Police switching to battery-powered motorcycles. The Department of Homeland Security is also trialing the Ford Mustang Mach-E for law enforcement purposes.
In addition, a bill that will promote the adoption of electric vehicles is in the Senate. It is part of Biden’s Build Back Better scheme and will extend existing EV tax incentives and increase the amount offered. Billions of dollars will be spent on building out the charging infrastructure to eliminate range anxiety that makes some people hesitate about switching to electric vehicles.
American automakers are responding positively, as each of them has outlined their own plans and budget for switching to electric vehicles. For example, General Motors will spend $35 billion to make zero-emission and autonomous vehicles by 2025. Ford is also allocating $29 billion on the same effort.
General Motors, in particular, is ramping up its electric vehicle production and has even spun out a business making electric vans using the BrightDrop brand. Ford, too, is making electric versions of its popular Transit vans. Both companies will benefit from the government’s plan to phase out ICE vehicles as they have electric models that fit some of the federal fleet’s requirements. Due to the size of its operation, the government has been identified as a driver of demand.
Electric vehicles have been seeing more acceptance in the US, with the emergence of Tesla, which has become the biggest auto-making company in terms of market capitalization. It is expanding into other markets and setting up more factories, which it calls Giga Factories. Other EV startups are following Tesla’s footsteps in bringing battery-powered cars to the market.
However, one problem these companies have to deal with in the short term is chip shortage, seriously affecting vehicle production. The scarcity has forced some carmakers to dabble into making their own semiconductors, while others have reduced their sales projection.