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SOURCE: The Hill

DATE: January 18, 2018

SNIP: On New Year’s Day, the Trump administration missed an important deadline. It wasn’t related to the debt ceiling, DACA, or the Iran nuclear deal. Rather, the United States was due to present its biennial update the rest of the world on our progress in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change. Instead, the sound of crickets.

[R]egular reporting is the bedrock for any successful strategy to address the climate challenge. Because global warming is a truly global phenomenon, no country wants to act on its own if it believes that others are shirking. To address this so-called “free rider” problem, the United States has been the most vociferous advocate for transparency throughout the history of global climate talks.

Over three decades, we have worked to persuade and cajole other countries without a tradition of open government, including China, to monitor, verify and publicly account for their emissions and climate actions. This not only prevents cheating and ensures that each country is living up to its stated commitments, but also improves the chances that the world can successfully manage the necessary transition to a low-carbon future and prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. U.S. leadership has been successful: strong reporting and transparency provisions are now an essential feature of global climate agreements, with all countries required to report on progress every two years.

Unfortunately, the Trump administration has now failed to meet its legal obligation to deliver its biennial report on behalf of the United States on time. The Trump administration’s inaction — and failure to explain such inaction — undermines U.S. credibility and risks eroding the global consensus on transparency that previous presidents of both parties have long fought to establish and uphold.