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16th Jul 2018

Climate experts are eco imperialists, says Trump adviser

  • Greenpeace activist confronts Myron Ebell (Photo: EUobserver)

A Donald Trump adviser on the environment has told his EU counterparts that climate experts are "urban-eco imperialists".

Climate-change denier Myron Ebell, who headed Trump's transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was speaking in Brussels on Wednesday (1 February) at an event hosted by British Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan.

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  • Daniel Hannan described the demonstrators as "dishevelled, dreadlocked" radicals. (Photo: EUobserver)

"The first point I want to make here is concentrate whenever you hear from an environmental expert, think that he is an urban eco-imperialist," said Ebell.

The one-day summit was organised by the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe, a European political party.

The group advocates free-trade solutions on climate. "If you want to save the environment, privatise it," is among the claims made by the group on a promotional video.

But Ebell's anti-expert comment was even too much for one of the panellists.

"The idea that we can denigrate learning and expertise sends a terrible message to young people, it sends a terrible message to a wider electorate," said Gregory Barker, Britain's former energy and climate change minister.

"Please, please stop trashing experts. It's incredibly dangerous."

Ebell, a staunch free-trade advocate, believes people who live and work the land are better placed to understand and make decisions on climate.

He then accused Barker of belonging to a "crony capitalist regime" that profits from the environmental movement.

He described the movement as a special interest "that has figured out that there is a lot of money to be made by embracing people's energy crisis".

Ebell had earlier been interrupted by a Greenpeace activist in the audience who stood up and held a sign with the word "Resist" written across it.

Environmental Protection Agency

Ebell does not speak for the Trump administration and has never met the president. But he was appointed by Trump's transition team to revamp an agency that helped uncover the Volkswagen diesel-emission scandal last year.

Ebell said he "assumed" the EPA would continue its probes into car manufactures that cheat on diesel emissions.

But he also told reporters that he agreed with Trump's message that "the EPA is one of the biggest problems to American economic growth".

"President Trump during the campaign said he wanted to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency," noted Ebell.

Trump also wants to withdraw from the Paris climate treaty, pull funding from UN climate programmes, dismantle Obama's climate action plan and scrap the former president's greenhouse emission rules.

Ebell has never worked at the EPA, but his staunch reproach of regulation and his work at the liberal Competitiveness Enterprise Institute (CEI), a Washington DC-based group, had by his own account, caught the attention of "someone very high up" in Trump's team.

CEI calls itself a non-profit, non-partisan research and advocacy institute but reportedly has ties to tobacco industry campaigns and climate-change denial campaigns

Its key funders include the right-wing billionaire Koch brothers who want Scott Pruitt, another climate change denier, to head the EPA. The brothers also run the coal, oil, and gas Koch Industries conglomerate.

Ebell had earlier in the week visited the UK prime minister's office but reportedly did not speak to Theresa May.

Demonstrators picket Ebell

But his visit to Brussels sparked protest as a group of picketers gathered outside the event.

Among the demonstrators was Fabian Flues, who told this website that Ebell's presence at the event was disgrace for the Conservatives in the European Parliament.

"To provide this forum and invite such a person to an event like this. It really is a backsliding to positions that seems three, four, five years ago the Tory party didn't have," he said.

Colin Ruche, another protester, also took issue with the EU Commission.

"It is disgraceful that Jos Delbeke, the senior climate official in the European Union, is dignifying a climate denial event and contributing to the continuation of a corporate funded climate denier system," he said.

Delbeke heads the commission's directive general on climate action and was a panelist at the event.

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