Taking the same course as last year, the Trump administration plans to hold a side event at the upcoming United Nations climate talks that will focus on and promote fossil fuels — a move that angered climate activists last year.
According to sources who spoke with Reuters, the administration intends to “highlight the benefits of technologies that more efficiently burn fuels including coal.”
> This year’s talks in Katowice, Poland - located in a mining region that is among the most polluted in Europe - are intended to hammer out a rule book to the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, which set a sweeping goal of ending the fossil-fuel era this century by spurring a trillion-dollar transition to cleaner energy sources such as solar and wind power.
> Even as the Trump administration aims to promote energy strategies that could detract from those international goals, it also plans to let State Department officials continue negotiating the climate accord - a recognition that the next U.S. president may drop the nation’s opposition to the pact.
> “The White House seems to have taken the view that it’s important to let technocrats complete the work of the rule book. It’s in the U.S. national interest to be at the table and see an outcome that emphasizes transparency, holds countries accountable,” said one of the sources, who is familiar with State Department plans.
One source involved with planning the event told Reuters that the U.S. is the only country “willing to push a rational discussion on the role of cleaner, more efficient fossil (fuels) and the role of civilian nuclear energy.”
> The source, who did not want to be named due to the sensitive nature of the issue, said the event will be dominated by proponents of coal and natural gas and likely advanced nuclear power, too. The panel will also likely feature a U.S. Energy Department representative. At this point plans do not include a renewable power industry representative, the source said.
> The event is expected to be led by Wells Griffith, Trump’s international energy and climate adviser, the sources added. Griffith’s main energy policy experience involves a year at a political job at the Department of Energy and helping to set up a deal last year to supply Ukraine with U.S. coal after the country lost control of mines to Russian-backed separatists.
While some have interpreted State Department involvement in Poland as a sign that Trump might be willing to concede and remain in the Paris climate accord, one source cast doubt on such an inference:
> Environmentalists should not get excited that any State Department cooperation in Poland signals the Trump administration is eyeing a return to the Paris agreement, one of the sources said.
> “It’s making sure U.S. interests are paramount, nothing more, nothing less.”