Executive Order 14008 - Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad

Executive Order 14008 (“order”), issued by U.S. President Joe Biden on January 27, 2021, establishes climate change as a priority across all aspects of federal government operations and policy.  The order sets policies and directs agency actions that promote environmental justice, green technology and job growth, economic development, and U.S. leadership in foreign climate policy. In addition to rejoining the Paris Agreement and committing to hosting a climate summit, the order creates two federal administrative bodies to coordinate climate action across the federal government and directs them to immediately create strategies for accomplishing these policy goals. Agencies play a large role in implementation, and the order often requires Tribal and other consultations. 

Prioritizing Climate Change in the Whole of Government Structure and Operations

The order emphasizes the importance of a government-wide approach to addressing the climate crisis, and instructs agencies to use procurement powers where appropriate to enhance efficiency and climate-readiness of government facilities. Accordingly, the order establishes new federal structures and procedures to facilitate this shift. First, it calls for the creation of two coordinating bodies to implement domestic climate policy: 

  • The White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy is tasked with: coordinating domestic climate policymaking and policy advising to the President, and monitoring domestic climate policy implementation.
  • A National Climate Task Force (NCTF) will facilitate organization and deployment of a government-wide climate approach, including facilitating planning and implementation of federal climate pollution reduction actions, increasing resilience to the impacts of climate change, conserving biodiversity, promoting environmental justice, and promoting job and economic growth.

The heads of all federal agencies will submit draft action plans to the Climate Task Force describing steps the agency can take to bolster adaptation and resilience to climate change. The plans should: 

  • describe the agency’s vulnerabilities, 
  • describe how the agency can ensure climate readiness and use its procurement power to increase energy and water efficiency on government installations/buildings,
  • explore using purchase power to drive innovation, 
  • expand climate forecast capabilities and public access, including a Federal mapping service, and
  • seek to increase resiliency against supply chain disruptions. 

Economic and Job Growth

The order sets out domestic policy goals to advance economic development and job growth, focusing on several priority areas: building infrastructure and a clean energy economy; advancing sustainable sectors including conservation, agriculture, and reforestation; and revitalizing energy-dependent communities. 

    • Building Infrastructure and Clean Energy Economy: The order recommends the Secretary of the Interior review permitting and siting processes and practices for both renewable and fossil energy permitting and identify steps to prioritize climate change in permitting decisions, decrease fossil fuel impacts, and increase renewable energy development on public lands and in public waters. 
    • Advancing Sustainable Sectors: The order establishes a policy and goals for building climate resilience and reducing emissions through efforts to conserve public lands and water and promote sustainable private land management. For example, it outlines a conservation plan and directs agencies to recommend metrics for designating lands for conservation. Additionally, agencies will submit a strategy to the President for the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps, consistent with a policy of revitalizing communities formerly supported by mining and fossil fuel industries. This Corps will engage in conservation, climate adaptation, and land restoration initiatives. 
    • Revitalizing Energy-Dependent Communities: Working communities formerly reliant on the fossil fuel production industry will be the subject of revitalization efforts to transition them into a green economy. 

Environmental Justice and Economic Opportunity

In outlining actions to stimulate job growth in these priority sectors and areas, the order also emphasizes the need to focus on overburdened, low-income, and rural communities and communities of color.

The order recommends actions to promote environmental justice and racial equity across all government efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Accordingly, the order amends Section 1-102 of Executive Order 12898 of February 11, 1994 (Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations) to create the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council (EJIC) which will implement performance metrics to guide environmental justice goals. The order then creates the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council within the EPA to advise the EJIC.

Agencies themselves are to make environmental justice a part of their missions, and to take actions to support this policy, including:

  • The Council on Environmental Quality will create a climate and economic justice screening tool that will annually publish interactive maps highlighting disadvantaged communities, 
  • EPA will strengthen enforcement of violations which have a disproportionate effect on underprivileged communities, 
  • The Department of Justice shall work with other agencies to develop an environmental justice enforcement strategy, and
  • The Department of Health and Human Services will establish an Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, an interagency working group to decrease climate change risks to high-risk demographics such as children and the elderly, and a Health Care System Readiness Council.

The order also establishes the Justice40 Initiative, which aims to ensure that a minimum of 40% of the benefits of certain federal investments (e.g., in clean energy and transportation, housing, workforce development, and environmental remediation) accrue to disadvantaged communities.


Foreign Policy and Security

The order declares that the US will prioritize sustainability in foreign relations and move to build global resilience. To accomplish this, the order commits the U.S. to rejoining the Paris Climate agreement and hosting a climate leadership summit in the near term. The USA will further:

  • reconvene the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, 
  • create a special climate envoy position, 
  • develop a plan addressing global carbon sinks including the Amazon Rainforest,
  • work with the national Import-Export Bank to promote movement away from international financing of carbon-intensive energies and toward sustainable development. 

Agencies will implement policies to support climate-conscious security and foreign relations goals, including a Climate Risk Analysis to inform security policy and a transmittal package to the Senate contemplating adopting of the Kyoto Protocol’s Kigali Amendment. The order also reinstates The Presidential Memorandum of September 21, 2016 (Climate Change and National Security)

 

Publication Date: January 27, 2021

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