“What we are trying to do today is to bring the message home to individuals, to embassies, to the State Department, and across the world that our goal is to make climate change, the greening of the world, a responsibility that starts with each and every one of us.” – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton launched the Greening Diplomacy Initiative (GDI) in April 2009 to improve the environmental sustainability of the State Department’s global operations. Advanced by the Department’s Greening Council, the GDI challenges the Department to develop and implement policies and actions that lessen its overall environmental footprint, reduce costs, and ensure sustainability remains at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy.
Agency Sustainability Plan
President Barack Obama instructed federal agencies to develop, implement, and annually update a strategic sustainability plan to meet energy, water, and waste reduction targets (Executive Order 13514: Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance). Agencies are rated on Energy Management, Transportation Management and Environmental Stewardship. The State Department was one of six federal agencies to receive the highest marks in all three areas of the Office of Management and Budget’s Sustainability/Energy Scorecard.
Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals
The State Department has established a greenhouse gas reduction goal of 20% by FY2020 for its domestically controlled facilities (relative to a FY2008 baseline) for Scope 1 and 2 emissions – those created by generation of power for buildings. The Department also established a greenhouse gas reduction goal of 2% by FY2020 for Scope 3 emissions– those from waste, energy transmission loss, and travel.
Recent State Department Milestones
D.C. Greening Embassies Forum
The State Department and the Earth Day Network launched the D.C. Greening Embassies Forum on Earth Day 2010. It is a way to encourage green activities across Washington’s diplomatic community. The forum, consisting of Washington, D.C.-based foreign missions, meets quarterly to share challenges, experiences, and best practices on green facility renovations and sustainable business operations.
Funding for Green Projects
GDI encourages U.S. missions overseas to establish a “reinvestment fund” where future efforts are funded with savings generated by current ones. Missions consider the carbon impact of their procurement decisions and look for creative ways to secure funding – such as investing proceeds from the auctioning of embassy surplus goods into new “green” fixtures.
Sharing and Communicating Ideas
The State Department established an internal GDI website where domestic offices and U.S. missions overseas may exchange proven sustainability practices and submit innovative solutions, review environmental reports and submissions, and search for Department resources on greening. The Department also leverages technologies such as its internal e-Sounding Board to encourage discussions with the Department’s workforce on greening issues.