Ministers from 130 countries around the world are meeting in Poland at the United Nations’ climate change conference to discuss action to address global warming. But instead of coming with the intention of reaching a resolution, critics say that the United States showed up to push fossil fuels, the Washington Post reports.
Wells Griffith, a top adviser in Donald Trump’s White House, spoke to a crowd of about 200 people at the conference in an attempt to promote the use of fossil fuels like coal in an “efficient” way. He told people at a scheduled event that the US has a good deal of natural resources and that the country has no intention of leaving them in the ground, vowing to “share” fossil fuel resources with the world.
“We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability,” Griffith, an official with the US Department of Energy, told the crowd.
Protesters in the crowd immediately erupted in mock laughter, shouting that solutions like “clean coal” are a “joke.”
Undeterred, Griffith continued, saying that countries should use fossil fuels without apology.
“All energy sources are important, and they will be utilized unapologetically,” he said. “The important piece is to utilize them in the most cleanly and efficient way, and that’s something I think all countries are committed to.”
Formally known as the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), the conference is a place for world leaders to gather to tackle climate change. A key element of that is moving away from fossil fuels.
Rumors that the White House planned to host a pro-coal sideshow called Innovative Technologies Spur Economic Dynamism began in November, prompting protesters to show up to the event to show their displeasure. People at the meeting said that it felt like it was more appropriate for a trade show rather than a place for serious talks about addressing climate change.
“It feels like the US saying the rest of the world, ‘We’ve got coal and coal technology; come buy it from us,'” said Jesse Bragg from the nonprofit group Corporate Accountability. “They’re not here to negotiate a treaty. They’re here to sell fossil fuels.”
Even as the theatrical meeting took place, State Department officials showed up at COP24 to offer constructive communication with other leaders to address global warming, sending a mixed message to world leaders about how the US plans to tackle the problem.
Trump has repeatedly said that he would like to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, a historic pact reached in 2015 by nearly every country in the world to reduce carbon emissions. In recent days, the president has blamed riots in Paris on the accord.
….in the world. I want clean air and clean water and have been making great strides in improving America’s environment. But American taxpayers – and American workers – shouldn’t pay to clean up others countries’ pollution.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2018