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US Promotes Coal at Venue of UN Climate Conference in Poland, Draws Flak

Civil society activists raised the flag of protests as the US officials began discussions at the side event promoting the cleaner fossil fuels.


Updated:December 10, 2018, 11:28 PM IST
US Promotes Coal at Venue of UN Climate Conference in Poland, Draws Flak
Image for representation. (File photo/REUTERS)

Katowice: The Trump administration Monday organised an event to promote coal at the venue of UN Climate Conference here in Poland, drawing flak from civil society organisations which dumped the US action as "disruptive".

Civil society activists raised the flag of protests as the US officials began discussions at the side event promoting the cleaner fossil fuels.

The Trump administration officials held the coal event to talk about how fossil fuels combined with innovation could help address the global temperature rise challenge.

However, within minutes into the event, a large group of civil society members, observers, college students and others protested by chanting slogans 'keep it in the ground', 'shame on you', and 'no more coal'.

At the end of the event, several panellist were asked questions on whether they have done any modelling on what combination of fossil fuel could help reduce emissions, the panellist had no answers.

An observer present at the event said a female activist from india was among the protesters who spoke about Kerala floods and the urgent need to take action.

"All energy sources are important and will be utilised unapologetically," said Wells Griffith, international energy and climate adviser to the Trump administration.

The controversial side event was organised at the conference being held at Katowice, one of the main coal mining areas of Poland, with a message that the countries should reduce the use of fossil fuels like coal and oil to reduce the global warming.

The civil society groups alleged that the US came up with the coal event against the interests of the conference theme.

"In that side event, the US was promoting clean coal. There is nothing called clean coal as far as climate change is concerned. If you burn coal, carbon dioxide gets emitted. Ultimately carbon dioxide is causing climate change", noted Indian climate expert Chandra Bhushan said.

He said the US side event was absolutely in a bad taste.

"What is the role the US is playing at CoP 24 (Conference of the Parties). It is quite clear that the US is playing disruptive role. The US is not agreeing on differentiation, it is not agreeing on finance. The US is now emerging as a big disruptor," said Bhushan, who is also the deputy director general of New Delhi-based advocacy group Centre of Science and Environment (CSE).

Andrzej Chwiluk, a 25-year veteran of Poland's coal pits and former head of Poland's largest federation of mining unions, said the people who work in coal mines and oil fields have an important story to tell.

"In 2010, I led 40,000 people to protest against closing coal mines. And today being aware of the threat I want to do something about climate change! But I had to protest, because the government doesn't care about communities like ours.

"What I find missing in the process is honest dialogue. Even among us Polish people, the environmentalists, the government, and the miners, we all speak a different language. Miners are pragmatic men. We can see that the money for renewable energy won't go towards protecting the jobs of people like us.

Let's be honest: without responsible government leadership, that won't happen. A just transition is the only way forward," he added.

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