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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The most interesting thing about President Biden's executive order on federal government emissions isn't the headline goal — net zero in three decades — but rather the interim targets.

Catch up fast: Biden yesterday issued a wide-ranging order on federal climate goals and clean technology procurement targets.

  • Goals include 100% carbon-free power in federal operations by 2030, 100% of the government's vehicle fleet purchases to be zero emissions by 2035 (with an earlier date, 2027, for light-duty vehicles), and a 50% reduction in building emissions by 2032.

Why it matters: The government is big. A wider federal sustainability plan also released yesterday notes there are 300,000 buildings, 600,000 cars and trucks, and annual purchasing power of $650 billion in goods and services.

The big picture: Overall, that's still a small fraction of the economy. But it's still important. Large buyers can create market demand that pushes technologies — say, EVs and nascent green cement — into the economy more widely.

  • “It’s a similar strategy to what China is doing so successfully, leveraging the purchasing power of their government to create demand that markets can meet,” Josh Freed of the think tank Third Way tells the NYT.

Quick take: One interim target caught my eye. The 2030 carbon-free power goal is on a net-annual basis, but it also calls for 50% of the power to be emissions-free on a 24/7 basis and "produced within the same regional grid where the energy is consumed."

  • Procuring enough clean power from somewhere, through various purchasing structures, to theoretically meet annual aggregate demand is one thing.
  • Not drawing any power from fossil resources on an hourly basis is an emerging challenge that can help deeply decarbonize grids, but is also much tougher to pull off.
  • It's one that some companies and local governments are taking on, with Google hoping to have its operations run 24/7 on clean power by 2030.

Go deeper: Biden administration approves second major offshore wind project

Go deeper

Electric cars could become charging stations too

Ford's F-150 Lightning pickup can top off the battery in a Mustang Mach-E. Photo: Ford

Electric vehicles will soon have "bidirectional" or two-way batteries that can turn cars into useful sources of power for your home, worksite or even another car.

Why it matters: One of the biggest obstacles to EV adoption is the lack of charging infrastructure.

  • But if you think of your car as a source of energy — not just a consumer of it — that whole calculus begins to change, says Reilly Brennan, a transportation investor at Trucks Venture Capital.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.