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Climate Change Hero

Climate Change Blog

  • 01
  • December
  • 2015

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Federal Agencies Release Plans to Reduce Their Own GHG Emissions

On November 23, 2015, the Obama Administration unveiled a series of plans—called “Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans”—detailing how various federal agencies will reduce their direct emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 40 percent by 2025. This is the first in a series of posts that will examine how various agencies intend to meet the President’s emission reduction target.

In March 2015, Obama signed an executive order that obligated “principal” federal agencies to cut their carbon dioxide output by an average of 40 percent compared with 2008 levels by 2025. Principal agencies include most of the major federal agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, General Services Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, and the Department of Interior. Other agencies, described in the executive order as “contributing agencies” do not have to meet these same requirements. Contributing agencies include the National Labor Relations Board, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission.


The executive order included a number of very specific requirements agencies must meet, which are discussed further in this previous post. One requirement under the order is that each principal agency must develop an integrated Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan beginning in June 2015, and must update their plans annually through fiscal year 2025. These plans must be based on June 10, 2015, guidance prepared by the Chair of Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ). Contributing agencies are encouraged, but not required, to prepare a plan. Each plan and update must then be provided to the Chair of CEQ and Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval.

While the executive order does not provide any information about what agencies must include in their Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans, CEQ’s June 2015 guidance explaining that they should include:  

  • Specific agency strategies to accomplish each of the order’s goals, including approaches for achieving the goals, milestones and quantifiable metrics for agency implementation;
  • Consideration of the effects of climate change on the agency's operations and programs;  evaluation of past performance and identification of opportunities for improvement to extend or expand projects that are life-cycle cost effective and reassess, alter, or discontinue under-performing projects;
  • The agency’s most recent annual Vehicle Allocation Methodology (VAM) report, Fleet Management Plan (FMP), Multimodal Access Plan (MAP), and where necessary other unique plans that are likely to be prepared less frequently than annually; and
  • A report on progress made or updates to their Climate Adaptation Plans.   

The principal agencies have released their new Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans, detailing how these agencies will meet their emissions reductions targets over the next decade. According to the Administration, federal agencies will beat the target set by the executive order and cut emissions by 41.8 percent from 2008 levels by 2025. The Administration announced that “[t]hese carbon reductions will save taxpayers up to $18 billion in avoided energy costs, as well as increase the share of electricity the Federal Government consumes from renewable sources to 30 percent. . . . agencies are continuing to modernize their programs and policies to be more climate-resilient, outlining initiatives to reduce the vulnerability of Federal programs and assets.”

Please check back soon for more posts discussing of the plans submitted by various agencies.  

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