No Time to Waste: Embracing Sustainable Procurement to Mitigate the Accelerating Climate Crisis

13 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2021

See all articles by Steven L. Schooner

Steven L. Schooner

George Washington University - Law School

Date Written: December 8, 2021


Procurement professionals will increasingly be asked to play an important role in adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change. Unfortunately, we don't have time to waste, either feeling hopeless or waiting for changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and subsequent efforts to implement new regulations. The time to start progressing up the learning curve is now.

We need to talk - seriously, thoughtfully - about climate change and sustainable procurement, particularly early in the acquisition planning process. We need to rethink the value proposition, particularly with regard to factoring in the social costs of continuing to rely on solutions that generate GHGs (greenhouse gasses) with regard to public health, our quality of life, national security, and global stability. We need to think in terms of life cycle cost (or total cost of ownership) analysis, which accounts for externalities or effects such as the social cost of GHGs—rather than focusing on and celebrating low purchase prices.

Ultimately, we need acquisition professionals to apply their considerable knowledge, expertise, energy, ingenuity, and public service ethic to help governments adapt to, and mitigate the harms associated with, climate change. We've got our work cut out for us.

Keywords: Government Contracts, Public Procurement, Defense, Acquisition Workforce, climate change, Anthropocene, sustainable procurement, global warming, Paris Agreement, Performance Measurement, Lifecycle Costing, Externalities, tyranny of low price, greenhouse gasses

JEL Classification: D62, H11, H42, H56, H57, K12, K23, L32, L33, Q01, Q54, Z18

Suggested Citation

Schooner, Steven L., No Time to Waste: Embracing Sustainable Procurement to Mitigate the Accelerating Climate Crisis (December 8, 2021). 61 Contract Management, Issue 12, page 24 (December 2021), GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2021-53, GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2021-53, Available at SSRN:

Steven L. Schooner (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States
202-994-3037 (Phone)
202-994-5614 (Fax)


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