By Anders Lorenzen
If you want to understand how absurd climate and energy policies have become in the US, you only have to look at the activities at the UN COP23 climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany. While progressive climate states like Washington and California through their Governors, Jay Inslee, and Jerry Brown, took part in pro-climate action events – and supported by former New York Mayor, businessman Mike Bloomberg – the activities of the Trump administration looked somehow different.
Despite having pledged to quit the Paris Agreement, the administration still sent representatives to the climate talks in Bonn, not in order to contribute to tackling the climate crisis, but to shore up support for their coal industry and to make deals with possible customer countries. On Tuesday they even hosted a pro-coal event, talking about the potential for clean coal to cut emissions. But towards the end of the event the audience, the majority of whom were young people could not take it anymore and got up. And to the tune of ‘God Bless America’, they sang: “So you claim to be an American, but we see right through your greed, it’s killing right across the world, for all that coal money.”
Michael Bloomberg was not impressed by the Trump administration‘s activities at COP23 either, saying: “Promoting coal at a climate summit is like promoting tobacco at a Cancer summit.”
The US-based Center for Biological Diversity reacted angrily to the pro-coal event. John Fleming, a climate scientist at the organisation said: “Coal reserves dwarf the remaining carbon budget for staying under 2 degrees Celsius, let alone 1.5 degrees. Further use of coal is a death sentence for the planet”. Fleming hinted that the panel lives in a fantasy world: “At a time when renewable energy is becoming cheaper and even China and India are shifting their focus towards more renewables, the panel’s rhetoric was baseless and destructive.”
It seems that senior figures in the Trump administration believe it is a real possibility, that coal deals can be struck with other countries. Earlier this year we reported that Ukraine had received their first shipment of US coal. It is likely that the US government will want to strike similar deals with other countries who are thirsty for cheap energy, and who are not worried about the climate and environmental impacts of coal.