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Trump Administration Pushes Fossil Fuel At UN Climate Summit

Photo of climate activists stop in front of the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference venue during the March for Climate in a protest against global warming in Katowice, Poland, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018.
Alik Keplicz
AP Photo
Climate activists stop in front of the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference venue during the March for Climate in a protest against global warming in Katowice, Poland, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland is not going well for the Trump administration. Officials’ speeches have been met with laughter, hecklers, and people walking out of the room. Some protestors are calling the administration's push for clean coal “climate suicide.” The annual meeting, known informally as Cop24, is geared toward ending global warming, and this year attendees are focused on how to implement the Paris Agreement. 

Justin Catanoso is a journalism professor at Wake Forest University and reporter for the environmental news outlet He is in Katowice covering the summit and joins host Frank Stasio to talk about the potential impact of U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, the role North Carolina and other states are playing in keeping it alive, and how North Carolina farmers are learning to reduce the state’s carbon footprint.

Interview Highlights

Catanoso on the Trump Administration pushing fossil fuel at Cop24:

They claim that these are abundant energy resources that should not go to waste. They claim that these are resources that can be put to use in underserved or poor countries. Essentially it’s a sales pitch for fossil fuels that we are stockpiling in the U.S. And a lot of people just aren’t buying it. The pushback was even greater than last year.

Catanoso on working out the details of the Paris agreement:

It’s about transparency in reporting emissions. It’s about finance. It’s about nations’ ambitions in reducing carbon emissions. It’s about how nations will adapt and who’s going to pay for it … Trying to get 196 nations to agree again on anything is pretty darn hard.

Catanoso on Gov. Cooper’s commitment to reduce emissions:

Gov. Cooper is in a state with a legislature that’s not really crazy about climate action, and yet just a month ago he signed an executive order that said North Carolina is going to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2025 … [That is] very ambitious. It puts North Carolina in a category with Colorado and California.   

Catanoso on the announcement by major clothing lines that they are moving to lower their carbon footprint:

A lot of these are global companies, and they are being disrupted by climate change. They’re being disrupted by erratic weather, by drought … [If] you’re buying one percent of the world’s cotton and suddenly parts of the world can’t grow cotton anymore because its too hot or there’s not enough water, you are concerned about climate change.  Companies not just in the United States but around the world are really starting to push their national governments to do more about climate mitigation because it’s bad for business.


Dana is an award-winning producer who began as a personality at Rock 92. Once she started creating content for morning shows, she developed a love for producing. Dana has written and produced for local and syndicated commercial radio for over a decade. WUNC is her debut into public radio and she’s excited to tell deeper, richer stories.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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