CONFRONTING UNACCOUNTED-FOR GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS IN STOCKTON, CALIFORNIA
Written by Leehi Yona1
Editor’s Note: This article by Leehi Yona earned first place in the Environmental Law Section’s inaugural 2022 Environmental Law Student Writing Competition. Leehi wrote this article while in her third year at Stanford Law School, where she is also pursuing a PhD and writing a dissertation centering on the global carbon cycle. Leehi is passionate about the intersections between climate change science, policy, and justice.
To address climate change, responsible actors such as governments and corporations must reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to limit GHGs’ atmospheric concentrations, often reporting GHG inventories to measure progress. However, these responsible actors often exclude some GHG emissions from their reports. As a result, accountability measures2 such as the United Nations Paris Agreement3 subsequently do not account for these excluded emissions when determining the progress actors make towards pledged emissions reductions. These "unaccounted-for" greenhouse gases ("UGHGs") thus distort mitigation incentives and lead to potentially flawed perceptions of progress: responsible actors are less likely to mitigate the climate impacts of their UGHG sources than those of their accounted-for sources.