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By Rachel Leven
Oct. 7 — Transparency requirements included in the Paris Agreement set to take effect in November may spur additional action and collaboration in battling climate change, federal and state officials said Oct. 7.
Reporting on efforts to tackle climate change will enable countries to learn from one another about what measures are most effective, officials agreed at the American Bar Association’s environment and energy fall conference in Denver.
“I think it’s going to improve the current system of greenhouse gas inventorying,” said Conor Linehan, a partner at William Fry in Dublin. “Ideally it would be a very vigorous system of greenhouse gas accounting that, I agree, could achieve a lot.”
Janet McCabe, assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air and Radiation, noted transparency also prompts action.
The blockbuster international climate agreement is aimed at keeping global temperatures from increasing by more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) later this century compared to the pre-industrial era. On Oct. 5. it topped the necessary ratification benchmark—55 countries representing 55 percent of the world’s emissions—and will enter into force Nov. 5.
McCabe and Matthew Rodriguez, California Secretary for Environmental Protection, said they have seen the success of environment pollution reporting and transparency while in their own agencies, separate from the Paris Agreement.
McCabe pointed to the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory, which requires certain industries’ facilities to report releases and management of more than 650 toxic chemicals annually, as a tool where transparent data has helped.
“It’s not just if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” McCabe said. “It’s if you measure it, and it’s made public, then you’re going to want to do something about it.”
Rodriguez, on the other hand, said people use public California environment information to make investment decisions. He also said meetings with Chinese officials showed him how making the state’s data public allowed other entities to learn about emission reduction strategies.
“Some of them knew more about what was going on in California in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than I did,” Rodriguez said. “I think there will just be a tremendous interest in getting the information out.”
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