Axios' Amy Harder reports from Poland on the U.S. position at UN climate talks, where a senior Trump official said the White House posture is gaining support from other countries.
Driving the news: Australia's environment ambassador joined a U.S. event Monday focused on nuclear power and a continued-but-cleaner use of fossil fuels. Afterwards senior White House energy adviser Wells Griffith told reporters:
“There was a lot of interest [in the event]. We had a lot of people [from other countries] reach out, some gauging interest, asking about what it was, looking to participate. We’re happy to engage in these realistic conversations about global energy systems.”
Why it matters: The U.S. stance is much friendlier to coal and oil than nations calling for very steep emissions cuts to stave off high levels of warming.
The big picture: Griffith wouldn’t name countries expressing interest in the U.S. position. But a few data points suggest more support for this perspective compared to last year, when the administration held a near identical event.
- The new inclusion of Australia's Patrick Suckling indicates support by that nation, which is a big fossil fuel producer like the U.S.
- The conference was thrown into disarray last weekend after the U.S. joined Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in refusing to officially "welcome" a recent landmark UN scientific report on climate change. The U.S., Russia and Saudi Arabia are the world's 3 largest oil producers.
What they're saying: The New York Times reports that the U.S. alignment with those nations "injected a new dynamic that several diplomats said they found worrisome."
“The U.S. along with Saudi Arabia are playing a clear and calculated spoiling role in the climate change negotiations,” Ian Fry, a top diplomat for the island nation Tuvalu, tells NYT.
Threat level: The ambition around the world for the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement is lessening, fueled by nationalistic leaders like President Trump and Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who has criticized the deal and withdrew from hosting this same conference next year.
Reality check: The current administration supports technologies that capture and store carbon dioxide from emitting facilities like coal and cement plants.
- But most of its policies are loosening — not tightening — standards that would make fossil fuels cleaner.
- Trump also doesn’t acknowledge that climate change is a problem at all, casting doubt on his administration’s efforts to genuinely push a technology that exists solely because of said problem.
What's next: "National leaders and ministers are preparing for the final stretch of U.N. climate talks, with just days left to break through thorny issues that diplomats have struggled to resolve," AP reports.