The US delegation at the COP23 climate meeting has changed the focus of one of its events from clean energy to the promotion of coal and nuclear power. The shift is considered indicative of the Trump administration’s broader dismissal of climate change concerns, writes Fiona Harvey in The Guardian.
The US was hosting few public events in Bonn to begin with at the conference. The event, which was originally billed as “Action on Spurring Innovation and Deploying Advanced Technologies” has been retitled “The Role of Cleaner and More Efficient Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power in Climate Mitigation.”
While the speakers listed at the event have remained the same, the description has now changed from discussion of “innovative solutions” and “transforming development pathways” to a new statement aggressively promoting the use of fossil fuels.
The current statement reads:
“It is undeniable that fossil fuels will be used for the foreseeable future, and it is in everyone’s interest that they be efficient and clean. This panel will explore how the US will be a leader in cutting carbon emissions through cleaner, more efficient fossil fuels and other energy sources.”
No explanation was provided for the dramatic shift, although a state department spokesman who declined to comment on the change emphasized that the event was open to anyone attending the event.
Observers noted that the change in focus aligns perfectly with Trump administration policy, which has downplayed the risks associated with climate change and dismantled Obama era efforts to lower emissions. The administration has promised to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and, last month, repealed Obama’s hallmark Clean Power Plan.
Referring to the change in the planned event in Bonn, Andrew Light of the World Resources Institute said:
“Whoever the Trump administration is trying to target with this event, it isn’t people in the negotiating hall – they’re clearly focused on the booming global markets in renewable energy. At best, this event will be a curiosity, given the isolation of the US now in the international process.”
The COP23 meeting marked the first time the US had no visible, official representation at the climate talks. During the Bush and Obama administrations, the US had set up a pavilion at the talks each year, despite the Bush administration’s rejection of the Kyoto protocol.
The US room at the Bonn talks is generally unoccupied, and the coal and nuclear power event is the first public engagement by the official US delegation. The UN has said, however, that US representatives were present at at least some of the conference’s meetings.