Green Public Procurement: An Overlooked Subject In The US Presidential Campaign

Eighteen executives of UK-corporations recently signed a letter to to "Gordon Brown, the prime minister, and the leaders of the opposition parties to ask for stronger action on climate change." This letter is remarkable in several respects. In it they suggest a faster reduction goal for C02 emissions than EU political leaders have thus far been considering (30% versus 20%, by 2020). But, here's the money quote as far as governance is concerned: a quote from the CEO of Johnson Matthey (pictured) a specialty chemical firm with a presence in North America.

Neil Carson, chief executive of Johnson Matthey, the speciality chemicals company, said: "Public procurement drives about one-third of the UK economy but to date, attempts to 'green' procurement have largely failed. The public sector should be setting bold, new and sustainable specifications for the products and services it buys."
Via:FT, Businesses push for climate change lead

Government procurement should be equally bold and green in the USA and Canada, set to similar goals. Green purchasing policy by government needs absolutely to be a part of the Presidential debate in coming weeks.

Please: no comments about a socialistic agenda. The idea is to save taxpayer money while doing the right (green procurement) thing for the environment.The US government will always be buying goods to their specification. (Ideally within a balanced budget, which is a separate topic.) The point is to modify government procurement specifications to where environmental performance is at least a tie-breaker if not a key criteria - as important as price and availability - to drive positive environmental change. Talking about all the usual metrics: reduced toxicity; biodegradability; greater operating efficiency, ease of dis-assembly for more cost effective recycling, etc.

Done right, environmentally driven performance specs can reduce the total cost of government purchasing. Have a look at the Hanford Reservation and many other project military base cleanup costs if you doubt that truth.

It's costing Americans $1.4 million a day to build a facility to safely treat millions of gallons of radioactive and toxic waste stored in the Hanford Nuclear Reservation's leak-prone underground tanks.
Via::Seattle Post Intelligencer, Hanford cleanup cost soars to $11.3 billion ... if Congress will pay

Finally, a shout out to Fiona Harvey, environment writer for the Financial Times, who has been doing a great job of covering climate action in Europe.

Image credit::Telegraph,Neil Carson, chief executive of Johnson Matthey Co., British business people: The top 1,000: Healthcare and chemicals 20 to 1
More on government purchasing from the TreeHugger archives.
California Puts its Foot Down on Carpet Recycling
EU Mandates Energy Star
Spain to Cut Speed Limit, Give Out 49m CFLs and Build 1m Electric ...
Greening the Almighty Yuan: Consumer Choice Comes To China ...
Bottled Water Boycotts
Dutch Bank Introduces "Climate Credit Card"