Obama ramps up government renewables commitment

UNITED STATES: President Barack Obama has ordered the federal government to almost triple its use of renewable energy by 2020, saying that the authorities must lead by example.

Obama had previously set a 7.5% target

The new target calls for all executive departments, agencies and the military to source 20% of its energy from renewable projects by that date and sets out goals to be met in the interim.

This is a significant increase from a previous directive from the president, which set out a 7.5% goal. This target was reached this year.

Government bodies must now source not less than 10% of energy from renewables in fiscal year 2015, 15% in 2016 and 2017, 17.5% in 2018 and 2019 and 20% in fiscal year 2020 and each fiscal year thereafter.

Agencies are instructed to achieve this by either installing renewable energy projects on federal-owned sites, funding off-site projects, purchasing electricity from renewable developments or buying renewable energy certificates.

Obama said that since he took office in 2009, federal agencies have reduced their annual greenhouse gas emissions by more than 15% or 7.8 million tonnes.

In a presidential memorandum he said: "In order to create a clean energy economy that will increase our nation's prosperity, promote energy security, combat climate change, protect the interests of taxpayers, and safeguard the health of our environment, the federal government must lead by example."

The Defence Department has previously set its own goal of sourcing 25% of its energy from renewables by 2025.

The memorandum also directs federal bodies to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings.