State Dept Neglected To Track Emissions Of Flights To Climate Summits, Watchdog Says

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The State Department failed to record carbon emissions generated by flights carrying federal diplomats to United Nations (UN) climate conferences in 2021 and 2022, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The independent government watchdog’s findings indicate that Biden administration officials did not abide by President Joe Biden’s 2021 executive order requiring federal agencies to keep track of the greenhouse gas emissions their official activities produce, as first reported by Politico. The flights in question transported 191 officials to the UN COP26 and 259 officials to COP27 conferences, including Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, to address international plans to combat climate change, according to the GAO report.

Republican Sens. Shelley Capito of West Virginia, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Joni Ernst of Iowa requested the GAO report on the matter, according to Politico.

“The gas is always greener when you’re burning fossil fuels in the name of saving the planet,” Ernst said of the report’s findings in a statement to Politico. “While giving lip service to greenies, Biden bureaucrats are blatantly emitting the greenhouse gases they demonize.”

The State Department could not follow Biden’s directive because it had yet to develop final methods for doing so, the GAO report found. Standard commercial flights list their average carbon emissions on Google searches. (RELATED: Luxury Concierge Service Offering Private Jet Charters To Next UN Climate Conference)

“Americans are tired of bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. who don’t practice what they preach when it comes to protecting the environment,” Capito said in a statement shared with Politico. The Biden administration has repeatedly pledged to guide the U.S. economy to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

State Department officials asserted that the emissions the flights in question generated were insignificant in comparison to the emissions cuts agreed upon at COP26, according to the GAO report. The GAO recommended that the State Department ensure it consistently estimates the emissions generated by future trips to the UN climate conferences, according to its report.

“Representing the interests of the United States will always require face-to-face diplomacy,” a State Department spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation, adding that Kerry “believes in showing up and doing everything he can to keep 1.5 degrees (Celsius) within reach.” The spokesperson also highlighted the State Department’s efforts “to encourage the world’s economies to adopt policies to reduce their emissions at scale” at summits such as the COP26 and COP27.

The May 2022 COP26 Carbon Management Plan Final Report found that long-distance air travel generated 76% of the overall emissions generated by that year’s conference before accounting for reductions attributable to commitments made at the summit. A similar estimate was not available for COP27  as of the GAO report’s publication.

The White House did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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