Rather than presenting a strategy for meeting the goals of the Paris climate agreement, the Trump administration’s delegation to the United Nations’ climate conference in Bonn, Germany, is using the talks to promote the U.S. coal industry. At a U.S. government-sponsored event on Monday, for example, officials invited a top executive from St. Louis-headquartered coal giant Peabody Energy to help tout the benefits of burning coal in meeting the world’s energy needs.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who serves as the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy for cities and climate change, said Monday that “Promoting coal at a climate summit is like promoting tobacco at a cancer summit.”
Dave Banks, Trump’s special assistant for international energy and environment, countered that climate activists fail to understand world energy demand.
Holly Krutka, vice president of coal generation and emissions technology at Peabody Energy, included a slide in her presentation that stated “Coal remains an essential part” of the world’s energy mix. The talks are taking place as the United States has ceded the world stage on climate action, an attitude typified by the Trump administration’s decision to officially announce its intent to withdraw from the agreement in June.
Climate protesters interrupted the panel discussion as Barry Worthington, executive director of the U.S. Energy Association, was emphasizing the importance of U.S. energy production.
Worthington defended Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, arguing that fossil fuel companies face financial pressures from government regulators and their shareholders.