Nov 28, 2018 - Energy & Environment

U.S. politicians sitting out big climate conference

A factory emitting spoke in New Jersey.

Photo: Kena Betancur/VIEWpress/Corbis via Getty Images

Very few, if any, Democratic politicians are expected to attend a big United Nations climate conference next week in Poland.

Why it matters: Attending this annual event is often considered a show of commitment to an issue that typically doesn’t get a lot of attention. Many factors go into whether politicians go, and this year’s relative low attendance appears to be due to several. One is the fact Congress is in session and it’s nearly a month later than last year’s event, according to congressional aides.

The big picture: Climate change has received rare, front-burner status recently, with a trio of dire reports on the matter being released, and President Trump continuing to not acknowledge it’s a problem at all. House Democrats also have said they want to prioritize the issue when they take control of the lower chamber.

The details:

  • No Democratic senators are expected to attend, according to multiple Senate staffers.
  • The top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, is sending staff instead, according to a House aide.
  • Several governors who attended last year’s event, including California Gov. Jerry Brown and Oregon Gov. Katie Brown, both Democrats, aren’t attending, according to their offices.
  • Several Democratic senators and governors attended last year when the event was held in Bonn, Germany.

What’s next: The two-week negotiations get underway Monday in Katowice, Poland, a small coal-mining city. Negotiators from nearly all countries in the world are working toward more technical agreements governing the 2015 Paris climate accord. The Trump administration is sending several staffers and is holding a side event on coal the second week, similar to what it did last year.

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