The U.S. Fossil Sideshow

10 December 2018

Today’s official U.S. side event promoting fossil fuels is bound to attract a lot of attention – after all, the U.S. is the only party which officially intends to quit the Paris Agreement. While it is obvious that any event promoting greater fossil fuel use has no place here at COP24, ECO readers should keep in mind a few things:

  1. As was the case with a near-identical U.S. side event at COP23 last year, this year’s U.S. event is designed to anger COP attendees and divert attention from real climate leadership. The Trump White House delights in enraging its enemies (namely, anyone who accepts climate science). If today’s event makes you mad, remember that Trump’s coal-and-oil lackeys want you to be mad.
  2. This event is also a performance intended to satisfy both President Trump’s diehard supporters back home and appease his fossil industry patrons, who have a direct financial incentive in weakening the Paris Agreement. Wells Griffith, the ringleader of today’s event and Trump’s chief climate advisor, cannot keep his job unless he publicly pleases the boss. Remember: Trump’s world is Game of Thrones. Everyone is one tweet away from being fired.
  3. Despite what will be said at the U.S. event today, the Trump team cannot deliver on their promise to build an international alliance to support coal. They promised the same thing at COP23, and they have failed. U.S. coal plant closures have doubled during Trump’s second year in office; U.S. coal use will likely reach its 39-year low in 2018. The Trump team talks the talk, but can’t walk the walk – and they’re attending COP24 at a time when the U.S. press is focused on the Mueller investigation and the circus surrounding it.

At the same time as this side event, a broad and powerful coalition of cities, states, businesses, and beyond will be convening in the U.S. Climate Action Center here at COP to showcase their inspiring efforts to enhance climate action €” creating jobs, powering adaptation, and transitioning to renewables. All this comes days after the U.S. government unanimously affirmed the devastating impacts of manmade climate change in the U.S. So, remember that this side event is a bit more than a sideshow hosted by people who want to be taken seriously – but is best be ignored.

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