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Trump officials, energy execs to speak at pro-coal event during UN climate talks

Trump administration pro-fossil fuels event at 2017 climate conference.
The Trump administration hosted an event at last year's UN climate conference in Bonn, Germany, supporting fossil fuels and nuclear power. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

Trump administration officials are set to tout coal, natural gas and nuclear power at an event during the United Nations' annual conference currently underway in the old coal-mining Polish town of Katowice.

Driving the news: The side event, which the administration is holding for the second year in a row, comes as global leaders attempt to make progress on the 2015 Paris Agreement amid dire reports on how difficult that will be.

The details: The speakers at the event are likely to be the following, according to several people familiar with the event:

  • Wells Griffith, Trump’s adviser on global energy and climate issues.
  • Steve Winberg, assistant secretary for fossil energy at the Energy Department.
  • Rich Powell, executive director of the ClearPath Foundation, a nonprofit working on cleaner energy technologies from a conservative perspective.
  • Asfaha Tesfai, director of commercial development for Sempra LNG [liquefied natural gas] & Midstream.
  • Cheniere Energy, another company exporting natural gas, declined to participate in the event, according to a person familiar with the event.

For the record:

  • An Energy Department spokeswoman confirmed Winberg’s participation.
  • Powell confirmed his participation and said he would be focusing on advanced nuclear power technologies.
  • A spokesman for Sempra confirmed Tesfai's participation.
  • State Department and White House spokespeople didn’t comment on the speakers, and said instead the event, set for Dec. 10, will focus on how “job-creating innovations have contributed to reducing U.S. emissions while also growing our economy and providing reliable and affordable access to energy.”

Flashback, from our on-the-ground coverage at the conference last year:

What’s next: I'll be in Katowice beginning Dec. 9. Negotiators are looking to make progress on the technical aspects of the 2015 deal, which goes into effect in 2020.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to add a representative from Sempra as a panelist at the event.

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