(TFC)— Recently, Trump Administration representatives attended UN climate talks in Bronn, Germany. Perhaps this won’t surprise some readers, but they were all also affiliated with the fossil fuel industry. In pushing the importance of their industry’s survival, they hinted to background power balances pulling strings.
“This panel is only controversial if we choose to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the realities of a global energy system.” Those words came from David Banks’ mouth, special energy assistant to US President Donald Trump. Banks, with other coal and gas representatives, promoted their industry as having a central place in humanity’s energy future. The entire meeting, in fact, was a soapbox for the fossil fuel lobby to secure it’s economic foothold worldwide. “I don’t think it’s any surprise that economic prosperity is a higher priority”, Banks continued before the UN panel, Mashable reports.
“When the president looks at the Paris Agreement and climate policy in general, he looks through the lens of what effect does this have on US manufacturing and competitiveness.” Prosperity for whom, however, is the golden question.
Banks’ statement that economic prosperity is Trump’s priority naturally opens the door for many questions. Like, “what about the various ecological disasters including wildfires, hurricanes, hotter summers and colder winters?” These events not only weaken America’s infrastructure–which costs money–but also endangers overall national security. Intensifying weather events offshore or cross-border eventually becomes our problem. Especially if refugees escaping climate catastrophes, or the subsequent chaos arrive.
Despite dropping from the mainstream, America is still reeling from its recent tropical storm bombardment. Hurricane’s Harvey, Irma, Maria and Jose collectively wiped out swaths of the Caribbean and neighboring shores. Billions in damage was done by Harvey alone, and solutions are scarce for the poorest victims. Puerto Rico was essentially left behind, and President Trump even misrepresented the scale of Houston rescue operations after Harvey. These are all economic problems disregarded by Trump’s apparent vision of “economic prosperity”.
Promoting “clean coal” and nuclear energy as the world’s future before the UN was Orwell in a conference room. The masterful hijacking of words and their definitions. Some foreign leaders called the US meeting a diversion altogether. Despite clear knowledge to the contrary, Trump’s coal and gas advisers turned the gathering into a mirror fun house. Humanity’s energy future, and it’s planetary impacts, became a turbulent sales pitch.
And like any business, there are pressures to fall in line or face the consequences. Several Trump energy panelists wouldn’t answer a yes or no question from Democracy Now of whether they personally supported pulling out of the Paris Agreement.
“I really don’t want to get into an argument with the United States of America”, said Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama. “We all know what coal does”, he continued according to Mashable, “and we all know the effects of coal mining and of coal. There is really no need to talk about coal because we all know what coal does with regard to climate change.”
Now, why would the leadership of Fiji not want to get into an ideological argument with the US government? Well, how about the millions in supportive funding the island government gets from America? Just last year, the US government increased its support to UN food programs in Fiji after a deadly cyclone killed dozens. With trends suggesting worsening weather events, Fiji is backed into a corner. And with the Trump Administration wiping Obama-era initiatives, Fiji’s disaster fund could be in danger.
As Advisor David Banks himself goes, he has a quite interesting past. According to Politico, Banks served as an international affairs and climate advisor to George W. Bush. He’d also spent time with the Central Intelligence Agency as an analyst, Think Advisor reports. Banks also is the executive vice president of the American Council for Capital Formation.
ACCF is a conservative think tank advising “pro-business” policy throughout Washington. David Banks is credited for widely expanding ACCF’s influence in government by the non-profit’s CEO Mark Bloomfield. ACCF was responsible for funding a study estimating the costs of President Obama’s Paris pledge at trillions of dollars, and millions of lost jobs. David Banks was one of Trump climate panelists who wouldn’t answer Democracy Now’s yes or no question on the Paris Agreement.
That’s only a taste of the fossil fuel rabbit hole that Donald Trump has positioned throughout government. Among many things, the US pro-fossil fuel climate panel revealed how committed to the industry many Trump advisors are. It demonstrated how bold they can be in presenting their visions as fact in spite of global scientific data. “Economic prosperity”, whatever that means, has superseded the dire climate reality. It’s almost as bad as hints in the meeting that the US is willing to use its leverage to make smaller nations fall in line.