First hinted at back at the beginning of November, the Trump Administration followed through with its intention to host a pro-fossil fuel event on the sidelines of the COP24 UN climate talks currently being held in Katowice, Poland, much to the mockery of observers and attendees, and the jeers and protests of climate campaigners.
News agency Reuters broke news of the plans over a month ago and specifics began to filter through to the media last week. Intended speakers included Wells Griffith, Trump’s adviser on global energy and climate issues; Steve Winberg, assistant secretary for fossil energy at the Energy Department; Rich Powell, executive director of the ClearPath Foundation, a nonprofit working on cleaner energy technologies from a conservative perspective; and possibly someone from the natural gas industry.
In the end, the event — entitled “U.S. Innovative Technologies Spur Economic Dynamism” — included panelists Wells Griffith, Steve Winberg, Patrick Suckling, Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment, Rich Powell, and a representative from Sempra LNG. You can watch the full event here, including the disruption created by the protest — though, the broadcast does cut off for a few minutes.
Amidst attendees outright laughing at statements made by Wells Griffith — such as, “If we are serious about eradicating poverty… it is clear that energy innovation and fossil fuels will continue to play a leading role” — and protestors chanting “Keep it in the ground” and essentially taking over the event for a few minutes with a sign and group of protestors lining up in front of the panelists, neither the United States nor Australia — the only other country to be represented and attached to the event – came away smelling like roses.
This is the moment protestors disrupted the U.S. pro-fossil fuel event at #COP24, breaking out in laughter right after the Trump administration’s moderator said “fossil fuels will continue to play a role” in the world pic.twitter.com/ByMHuINGge
— Brian L Kahn (@blkahn) December 10, 2018
“It’s ludicrous for Trump officials to claim that they want to clean up fossil fuels, while dismantling standards that would do just that,” said Dan Lashof, Director, World Resources Institute US.
“Since taking office, this administration has proposed to roll back measures to cut methane leaks from oil and gas operations, made it easier for companies to dump coal ash into drinking water, and just days ago proposed easing carbon pollution rules for new coal-fired power plants. EPA’s own analysis found that Trump’s proposed replacement for the Clean Power Plan is so lax that it could cause up to 1,400 deaths per year.
“This sideshow in Poland would be laughable if the consequences of climate change weren’t so deadly serious.”
“The fact that the Trump administration would try to yet again host a pro-coal event at the world’s largest climate conference is a testament to how out of touch and clueless they really are,” said Steve Herz, Sierra Club’s International Climate and Energy Campaign Director.
“The Administration’s effort to peddle outmoded, uncompetitive, and highly polluting technology that the US itself no longer builds or invests in would be shameful even if the world were not in the midst of a climate crisis.
“World leaders aren’t being fooled by Trump’s fossil fuel-funded charade, and leaders have made it clear that they will continue to move on without the United States as they build the stronger, more resilient clean energy economies the world demands. Meanwhile, Trump’s constant blustering is further isolating the United States, tarnishing our reputation with the global community, and costing Americans their jobs, their health, and the chance to remain competitive in an increasingly clean energy economy.” – Herz
“The late President George H.W. Bush has a complicated legacy, but when scientists told him the truth about acid rain, he listened and even took action despite pressure from industry executives,” said Greenpeace USA Senior Climate Campaigner and COP24 attendee Naomi Ages, who spoke via email.
“Once again, the current president pales in comparison with his predecessors. Trump’s attempts to pander to coal industry executives despite deafening alarms that burning more fossil fuels will lead to more destructive climate catastrophes, air pollution illnesses and fatalities, and will leave U.S. workers out of the inevitable renewable energy transition is more than just willful ignorance – it’s criminally irresponsible.
“Let’s hope other leaders at the COP who listen to scientists will drown out this ‘pro-coal’ sideshow and the abdication of responsibility and leadership from the world’s second largest emitter.” – Ages
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