The world will get a look at climate policy in the Trump era this week when diplomats from nearly 200 countries gather in Germany for the most significant international talks on the issue since President Trump took office.
The U.S. government — once a central voice in climate talks —will occupy a diminished role at the COP 23 meeting, as other countries try to fill the void Trump left when he announced plans earlier this year to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement on climate change. China has sought to position itself as the new leader at the talks in Bonn, while some U.S. cities and states that are pushing forward with climate reforms in defiance of the Trump administration are also seeking a leadership role.
It’s unclear exactly what part the White House will play at the talks. The U.S. will promote fossil fuels with a presentation featuring speakers from coal, nuclear and gas industries, according to a report in the New York Times. And Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt, a supporter of the oil, gas and coal industries who has questioned the science of climate change, has been rumored to attend, which would likely upset other countries focused on climate change. The EPA directed a question about whether Pruitt might attend to the State Department, which did not reply to a request for comment on that question.
Still, some observers remain optimistic that the U.S. will work constructively behind the scenes to help hammer out the details of implementing the Paris Agreement, despite the administration’s hostile public posture. The State Department declined to provide any details about policy plans ahead of the conference.
“The United States intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement as soon as it is eligible to do so,” said a State Department official in an emailed statement. “We will continue to participate in climate negotiations and meetings related to the implementation of the Paris Agreement and other issues, to represent U.S. interests and ensure all future policy options remain open to the Administration.”
Despite the uncertainty, outside observers say they are encouraged by the choice of career diplomat Thomas A. Shannon to lead the U.S. delegation rather than a Trump appointee with a history of climate change denial. The U.S. has also engaged constructively in behind-the-scenes meetings in advance of the talks, according to environmental groups that track international climate discussions.
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Source:: Time – World