4. Voices from Poland: Tom Steyer and the Saudis
Axios' Amy Harder caught up with billionaire Democratic activist and donor Tom Steyer at the big UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland.
Driving the news: Steyer, who is eyeing a presidential bid, criticized the absence of other Democratic officials at the event. “There is a dearth of American leadership here,” he tells Amy.
- He called out 2 of his progressive colleagues, California Gov. Jerry Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, for not attending. They both came last year.
- Steyer speculates that for them, “it just wasn’t a high enough priority.” Steyer and Inslee are flirting with 2020 White House runs by the way.
The big picture: Steyer, who spent more than $120 million supporting Democratic issues and candidates in the midterm elections, said this conference is essential to ensure countries keep on track with the 2015 Paris climate deal, which President Trump plans to abandon.
The other side: Both Inslee and Brown sent senior officials working for them, including California Air Resources Board chairwoman Mary Nichols, Brown's senior adviser Ken Alex, and Inslee senior adviser Reed Schuler.
Read Amy's full dispatch.
Separately, Carbon Brief posted an extensive interview this morning with Saudi Arabia's top negotiator at the UN climate talks, Ayman Shashly.
Why it matters: OPEC's dominant producer is in the spotlight there after it joined with the U.S., Russia and Kuwait in preventing the conference from "welcoming" the recent UN climate science report. Shashly tells Carbon Brief:
“It didn’t say that how much space we need to make for developing countries to continue their development, without hitting 1.5C. That was not mentioned in the report."
“You would not say things like, you ‘welcome’ it … because that [means] we are giving legitimacy to some scientific report … that had its own issues of scientific gaps, knowledge gaps."
The big picture: The UN climate science report, which was extensively peer-reviewed, lays out the damages of allowing global temperatures to rise and the massive emissions cuts needed to hold warming in check.
Go deeper: Key global warming target slipping out of reach, UN scientists warn