A small cadre of environmentalists and Democratic governors from coastal states worked to undercut the Trump administration’s clean coal push during a climate change conference in Germany.
The two U.S. delegations stand in stark contrast to the reception that former President Barack Obama received during the conference in 2015 when the Paris agreement was signed. It’s also more acrimonious than what the Bush administration encountered when it opposed the Kyoto Protocol.
It’s not unprecedented, “[b]ut I’d say a much starker contrast at this point,” Elliot Diringer, executive vice president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, told reporters about the bickering between White House officials on one side and Democratic governors on the other.
“People are glad to see the U.S. negotiators still at the table, and they’re very glad to see the presence of senators, governors and others demonstrating the huge momentum for climate action back home,” said Diringer, who is a veteran of previous climate conferences in Bonn, Germany.
Democratic Govs. Jay Inslee of Washington and Jerry Brown of California were among the assortment on hand to dismiss the delegation that President Donald Trump sent to the conference. They went out of their way to belittle and diminish Trump’s talking points.
“This is a sideshow; it is a blip,” Inslee said at an impromptu press conference Monday. “The world is not paying any attention to it, because the world is not going to listen to someone who says that climate change is a hoax. Climate change is a fact. It is just as certain as the laws of gravity.”
Brown, who has fashioned himself as the antithesis of Trump, also laid into the president and the official U.S. delegation’s promotion of technology that conservatives believe helps make coal power environmentally clean.
“The rest of the world’s got to carry the ball while we’re temporarily in America off to the sidelines,” he said at the conference. “But there’s still California, there’s still New York, Washington, Oregon, all these other places, and there’s still corporations.”
Trump official George Banks remained unfazed. He told world leaders Monday that the only way to meet the obligations forged in the Paris accord was to adopt clean coal and other forms of fossil fuel production.
“The significant cuts in emissions envisioned by the framework and by the Paris agreement require advanced technologies, including [carbon capture and sequestration],” said Banks, an adviser for international energy and the environment. “The math otherwise does not work, no matter how much we want it to.”
Brown and Inslee’s coalition, which is made up of 14 states, could find their efforts to reduce overall carbon emission levels thwarted without the help of energy producing states’ help.
Texas, Pennsylvania and the Dakotas have not signed onto the coalition’s non-binding pact, which could greatly hamper the “We Are Still In” campaign. Most of the states in the campaign reside on the coasts.
Campaigners argue that they’re building a bottom-up coalition which will eventually include larger states and businesses. “This is the way we’re going to get to the unusual suspects,” one organizer told reporters.
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