Bloomberg Law
May 25, 2022, 7:12 PMUpdated: May 25, 2022, 9:11 PM

Federal Suppliers to be Required to Report Carbon Emissions (1)

Stephen Lee
Stephen Lee

The Biden administration will soon propose a rule requiring major companies that supply goods and services to the federal government to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions, a White House official said Wednesday.

The rule will be distinct from—but similar to—the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s March proposal that requires publicly-traded companies to report their carbon emissions in their registration statements and annual reports, according to Andrew Mayock, federal chief sustainability officer at the Council on Environmental Quality.

He provided few details about the proposal, except to say it will require suppliers to report on greenhouse gases, “report on climate risk, and required to set science-based targets,” and that it will be issued “in the very near future.”

“We have a responsibility with our suppliers to up our game as a whole,” said Mayock, speaking at a meeting co-convened by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions and the Climate Registry. “We want to make sure that we, with our colleagues in the SEC and other parts of the government, make sure that we set a certain standard, and we help drive that standard.”

The proposed rule will come as part of the Biden administration’s broad effort to transform “how we buy, manage, and operate pretty much everything we do in the federal government,” Mayock said.

Net-Zero Procurement

Biden’s federal sustainability plan envisions the entire federal government shifting to net-zero procurement by 2050 and 100% carbon-free electricity by 2030. The federal government is the nation’s biggest electricity consumer, using more than 54 terawatt hours per year at an annual cost of $4.5 billion, Mayock said.

The Biden plan would also see the federal government switching to 100% zero-emissions vehicle procurement by 2035. The government’s fleet of more than 600,000 vehicles is the fourth-largest in the world, and only 1% of that total is zero-emissions today, Mayock said.

Various agencies are now working to execute on those goals, he said. The White House is working through supply chain issues with its vehicle suppliers, but “significantly” more zero-emissions vehicles were delivered to the federal government this year than last, he said.

The Defense Department and General Services Administration have separately issued a request for information on how the federal bureaucracy buys electricity in retail markets.

Mayock also said he believed the White House’s sustainability changes could endure beyond the Biden administration if they are built into the federal budget or consecrated into regulations—"very wonky things that are sacred text inside the government.”

He also said federal agencies have “oversubscribed” to the administration’s call for them to work on adaptation and resilience, a sharp contrast from an earlier era “where you were pestering people about this stuff to try to make them pay attention and put some money in their budget.”

(Revises with additional reporting throughout.)

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