Will Public Shaming Force Companies to Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions?


It’s easy to ignore the massive greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuel, chemical, and motor vehicle companies when the exact amount of said emissions isn’t available. But ignorance will no longer be possible if the US Environmental Protection Agency’s new proposal for a comprehensive national reporting system for greenhouse gas emissions becomes reality.

The EPA’s reporting requirements would apply to all fossil fuel and industrial chemical suppliers, manufacturers of cars and vehicle engines, and companies that emit at least 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases each year–the average annual emissions of 4,500 cars. Approximately 13,000 facilities fall into that category. The facilities release an astounding 85 to 90 percent of all greenhouse gases in the US.

With estimated annual costs of over $120 million, companies will have to expend considerable resources on complying with the EPA. If the proposal is approved, companies will be expected to submit initial reports in 2010 and 2011.

While the EPA’s rule will help the government gauge the severity of our greenhouse gas problem, it will also have the added benefit of allowing the general public to pick and choose which companies to support based on emissions. Once the shock value of their emissions reports subside, major polluters might want to look into becoming a bit greener–if only to stop the complaints of environmentally-conscious consumers.