At the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27), the United States launched the Net-Zero Government Initiative, inviting governments to lead by example and achieve net-zero emissions from national government operations by no later than 2050. During a COP27 event with partner nations, Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory and U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry announced that 18 countries have joined the United States in this new Initiative.
Countries joining the United States in committing to net-zero government emissions include: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Lithuania, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
“The Net-Zero Government Initiative demonstrates that there is a growing global consensus about the role of governments in the transition,” said Secretary Kerry. “Through this Initiative, countries’ governments lead by example and send multi-market demand signals for clean technology, products and services that will spur markets.”
“The United States is proud to launch the Net-Zero Government Initiative and welcomes the partnership of each nation that has joined us,” said Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory. “There is much that governments can learn from one another—and inspiration we can draw from each other’s successes as we work to accelerate progress towards net-zero emissions across the globe.”
By joining this Initiative, countries are collectively underscoring the critical leadership role governments can play. National governments are frequently the largest employers, electricity consumers, vehicle fleet owners, real estate holders, and purchasers of goods and services in their countries. Governments committing and acting to reduce their own emissions can play a catalytic role in accelerating economy-wide actions, driving zero-carbon technologies and markets, and lowering decarbonization costs across all sectors.
Countries that participate in the Net-Zero Government Initiative commit to achieving net-zero emissions from national government operations by no later than 2050, developing a roadmap by COP28 that outlines the pathway for achieving the net-zero commitment with interim targets, and publishing the roadmap upon completion.
Many countries are already taking steps to green their government operations by transitioning to clean vehicle fleets, advancing energy efficient and sustainable government buildings, expanding carbon-free electricity for government operations, pursuing resilience and nature-based solutions, and advancing sustainable public procurement policies. For example, President Biden’s Federal Sustainability Plan directs the U.S. government to achieve net-zero emissions across its operations by 2050 by transitioning Federal infrastructure to zero-emission vehicles and energy efficient buildings powered by carbon pollution-free electricity.
Watch the livestream of the event here.
Throughout COP27, the United States announced several new steps to help reach President Biden’s Federal sustainability goals:
- On November 10, 2022, the Biden Administration proposed the Federal Supplier Climate Risks and Resilience Rule, which would require major Federal contractors to publicly disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and climate-related financial risks and set science-based emissions reduction targets.
- On November 16, 2022, the United States announced additional countries committing to the Zero-Emission Government Fleet Declaration, which was launched by the United States under the Clean Energy Ministerial’s Electric Vehicle Initiative at the Global Clean Energy Action Forum in September 2022.
WHAT Net-Zero Government Initiative PARTNER COUNTRIES ARE SAYING
“President Biden raised our government’s climate ambition by setting the historic goal for all Federal operations reaching net-zero emissions by 2050,” said White House Federal Chief Sustainability Officer Andrew Mayock. “The U.S. Government is now joined by 18 national governments committed to attaining net-zero government emissions by 2050. Through this Initiative, national governments will work together to steadily curb emissions in ways that meet the urgency of the climate crisis.”
“The Albanese Government has new ambitious targets and we’ve set the bar high for the Australian Public Service to help drive down emissions across the Australian economy and open up economic opportunities,” said Australia’s Minister for Climate Change and Energy, the Honorable Chris Bowen MP. “Australia has the potential to be a renewable energy superpower and the Australian Public Service will be supporting the development of new industries and strengthening international trade relations.”
“Austria will be climate neutral by 2040,” said Austria’s Minister of Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology, the Honorable Leonore Gewessler. “To serve as a role model for broader society, we adopted an ambitious national sustainable public procurement plan in 2021.”
“Countries around the world are taking action to achieve net-zero government operations and drive down national GHG emissions,” said the Honorable Mona Fortier, President of the Treasury Board, Government of Canada. “Canada is proud to join the Net-Zero Government Initiative. Through this important initiative, we are taking action together on climate change and contributing to a healthier planet.”
“Reducing emissions from public administrations is a priority for France and government must be exemplary in this respect, as planned in the French plan for sufficiency,” said France’s Minister for Energy Transition, the Honorable Agnès Pannier-Runacher. “We have therefore set a temperature limit of 19 degrees Celsius in government buildings for this winter. In addition, 100% of new government buildings must comply with the strictest emissions standards. Ultimately, our objective is net carbon neutrality for all the State’s public services in 2050.”
“Leading by example creates credibility for climate protection,” said Germany’s Parliamentary State Secretary, the Honorable Stefan Wenzel. “This applies above all to public administration. It can act as a driver for sustainable change with its purchasing power alone. This is exactly what we have set out to do in Germany: Our federal administration aims to become climate neutral by 2045.”
“Government leadership is key to climate action in Ireland and across the world,” said Ireland’s Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, the Honorable Eamon Ryan. I am pleased to lend my support to this initiative which highlights the catalytic role played by the public sector in mobilizing energetic pursuit of the achievement of our climate targets.”
“It is deeply meaningful for Korea to join the Net-Zero Government Initiative, which emphasizes the leading role of governments in countries’ efforts for a net-zero future,” said the Republic of Korea’s Minister of Environment, the Honorable Han Wha-jin. “Korea will work towards its vision of 2050 carbon neutrality through the 20-year national plan on carbon neutrality and green growth.”
“We are proud to join the Net-Zero Government Initiative to share best practice and support countries to achieve net-zero from their government operations,” said New Zealand’s Minister of Climate Change, the Honorable James Shaw. “New Zealand’s Carbon Neutral Government Programme is already underway. Our goal is for New Zealand government emissions to reach net zero by 2025.”
“Recognizing the role of governments as leaders in climate action, Singapore has set a target for our public sector to achieve net zero emissions around 2045, ahead of the national net zero target in 2050,” said Singapore’s Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, the Honorable Grace Fu. “We look forward to sharing best practices with and learning alongside like-minded partners to proactively green the public sector.”