State Department failed to report climate travel emissions required by executive order: report

The State Department did not report greenhouse gas emissions from travel by federal officials to United Nations climate conferences in 2021 and 2022, despite new requirements put in place by the Biden administration, according to a government watchdog.

A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released Thursday found that more than 190 U.S. delegates traveled to the COP26 climate summit in 2021 and more than 250 traveled to COP27 in 2022.

An executive order signed by President Biden in December 2021 called on federal agencies to track and reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions they produce from air travel and other sources.

However, the State Department “did not have a systematic method” for calculating emissions from U.S. delegation travel to climate conferences over the past two years, according to the report.

The department said its difficulties in calculating emissions stemmed from the fact that each member of the U.S. delegation “makes their own travel arrangements using their agency’s travel management systems.” They also pointed to a lack of access to information about officials who traveled on Air Force One.

However, the agency told the GAO that it was “developing methods to estimate future emissions from travel.”

The report points out that the “first step” toward meeting US greenhouse gas emission reduction targets is to “understand” these emissions from air travel, including from the US delegation to climate summits.

“The state would be in a better position to assess progress toward its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals under these executive orders if it consistently estimated emissions from air travel,” he added. .

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