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U.S. federal agencies are required to prioritize efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in accordance with Executive Order 13514 Federal Leadership on Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, issued in 2009.
Since 2010, USAID has produced an annual Agency Sustainability Plan that includes ongoing activities and proposed actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For the first time in 2012, two new annexes to the sustainability plan were released: an Agency Climate Change Adaptation Plan and a Fleet Management Plan.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions at USAID
USAID reports mainly on GHG emissions from employee air travel, ground travel, commuting, and waste water treatment. USAID does not report on GHG emissions from buildings and facilities, mainly because those emissions are already reported by the General Services Administration (GSA), which operates most USAID facilities in the Washington area, and by the U.S. Department of State, which hosts USAID in many of its facilities overseas.
USAID’s greatest opportunity to curb GHG emissions is by decreasing international air travel. Air travel emissions from Washington-based staff were 6,700 metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 2012--equivalent to annual emissions from more than 5,000 automobiles or more than1,250 homes. The sustainability plan sets a goal of curbing air travel emissions 7 percent by fiscal year 2013, from FY 2010.
USAID’s development activities also reduce emissions by establishing foundations for low carbon energy systems and by promoting land use practices that stop, slow, and reverse emissions from deforestation and degradation of forest and other landscapes.
USAID’s sustainability plan is a comprehensive plan with measurable goals and monitoring of performance. The plan’s core principles are as follows:
- Integrate the principles of environmental sustainability into its administrative, operational and program policies and activities;
- Minimize, to the extent practicable, any negative impact of USAID operations and programs on the environment, through a process of continual improvement and strategic investment;
- Create opportunities for good environmental practice and awareness of environmental policies and issues amongst Agency personnel;
- Foster the continued development of best practices and expertise in environmental disciplines in order to provide knowledge and capacity building related to environmental sustainability throughout USAID and its programs; and
- Establish transparent decision-making processes that encourage the expression of alternative solutions and promote sustainability.
Last updated: October 29, 2014