Donald Trump’s climate change advisor was heckled and interrupted at a keynote address of Conservative environmentalists in Brussels on Wednesday (1 February), before lambasting environmental experts as “urban imperialists.”
Myron Ebell, who oversaw the transition of the Environmental Protection Agency for the Trump inauguration team, was addressing a meeting of the new ‘Blue-Green’ summit held by the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE).
Ebell was met by a crowd of around 60 protesters outside the venue – the Solvay Library, in Parc Leopold – before his speech was interrupted by a Greenpeace activist.
Within a minute of Ebell taking the floor, a smartly-dressed man holding a Greenpeace “Resist” banner stood up, and told Ebell – who calls himself on Twitter “the number 1 enemy of climate change alarmism” – he was “denying basic science”.
The man was then escorted outside by security.
In his 15-minute address, Ebell told his audience of right-wing MEPs “Whenever you hear ‘environmental expert’, think ‘urban imperialist’.”
In fact, in his address, Ebell did not mention climate change specifically, let alone the Paris Agreement that President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw from.
Instead, he launched a lengthy explanation of capitalists as conservationists and lambasted the environmental movement.
Ebell warned the world was facing a “climate-industrial complex”, a play on President Dwight Eisenhower’s warnings about a “military-industrial complex” in 1960.
He claimed that “Power and money and influence is on the side of the environmental movement.”
Ebell said: “We face today a very interesting conglomeration of intentions and motives – between those who believe global climate change crisis and those who have figured out how to get rich on basis of promoting those ideas.
“This challenge claims to be moral and has at its heart….the push behind it is a special interest that figured out lot of money to be made by keeping poor people in poor countries poor perpetually.”
Speaking of his own background growing up on a ranch in the mid-West, Ebell remarked: “[There is a] belief among elite that they know better how to protect environment than people who actually live in the countryside.
“Time and time again ‘experts’ have theoretical, but no practical knowledge.”
‘Dishevelled and dreadlocked protesters’
The Trump advisor was introduced by Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan, who contrasted the “dishevelled, dreadlocked protesters” outside with the “respectable-looking people wearing ties” at the meeting.
Ebell went on: “Environmentalists tell you if you want to protect, the government had to own or protect it [the land]. In fact, it is one disaster after another.
“The Soviet Union was an environmental nightmare – toxic chemicals in the land and water. If you want something not to work, put the government in charge of it.”
Hannan, who had invited Ebell, called the speech “a ringing endorsement of stewardship and property rights”.
‘Tragedy of the Commons’
Ebell explained his philosophy was objection to the so-called ‘tragedy of the commons’ – a “key point of environmentalists. People grab whatever they can when owned in common. When owned by individuals or small groups, they have an incentive to take care.
He pointed to “ranchers, farmers, timber-owners. If they don’t take care, they lose (the) value of that resource.
“Having things in common means we each have an incentive to grab something before someone else grabs it – [this is the] story of the modern environmental movement.
“It’s completely wrong – human history for thousands of years contradicts what environmental movement is selling and has been successfully selling. Urban people have lost connection with stewardship.”
Ebell had visited Downing Street on the eve of his Brussels speech, although it is unclear who he met.
Earlier, EU Energy Union Commissioner Maros Šefčovič told EURACTIV it was very important that the US respected the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which was ratified under President Barack Obama.
He said: “If it comes to the US climate policy, we still have to wait for the concretisation of what was said during the election campaign, and we have seen that the position was several times modified.
“[It is] very important for us is the respect for the international binding treaty, which was approved and ratified by almost the whole world, including the US.
“We are convinced that what we did in Paris is a good thing, not only for the planet and mankind, but it has a very good business sense. We have our graphs about the coupling of economic growth and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and I think that more and more of these new technologies are being used in Europe and I believe also in the US.
“And if the administration decides to go in a different direction, sooner or later they will have to come back to the realisation that climate change is happening, that we humans are the cause of it, and that the USA is a country dramatically affected. Let’s look at all the hurricanes, tornadoes. It has a cost in human lives and material damages. You cannot put a price tag on it, but if you look at what happened in New York or New Orleans, or other cities, we are talking about many billions of damages.”