The Hague - The Dutch government hopes to organise an international "ClimateFirst" conference in the US after President Donald Trump's vow to boost the coal industry, a Dutch minister said Wednesday.
"We hope that the federal authorities will join us. The aim is to make progress together, not to return literally to the age of coal," Environment Minister Sharon Dijksma told national Radio1.
The move was announced after Trump on Tuesday declared the end of a "war on coal", moving to curb rules that underpin American emissions targets and a major global climate accord.
The consequences of Trump's decision "are damaging," Dijksma said, adding that "the United States remains the world's second largest polluter and must live up to its responsibilities".
Trump has ordered a review of emission limits for coal-fired power plants and eased restrictions on federal leasing for coal production, saying the measures herald "a new era in American energy and production and job creation".
But the decision has triggered an outcry from many countries, including China which urged the US to honour its commitments to the landmark 2015 Paris deal aimed at setting targets for greenhouse gas emissions to help tackle climate change.
"Many American states are ready to work with new partners, including those in Europe," Dijskma said.
"That's why we want to organise with them, and Canada and other countries, a conference in the United States under the slogan 'ClimateFirst'." The slogan recalls Trump's pledge in his January inauguration speech that his arrival at the White House meant he would be putting "America First." "The main question is, are we really going to do something about the climate? Are we going to fulfil the promises made to our children and grandchildren in Paris," asked Dijksma. She did not specify where or when the conference might be organised or what topics would be discussed.
She insisted however there was no link to an earlier Dutch government move this year to set up a fund dubbed "She Decides" after the Trump adminstration voted to halt US funds to overseas groups which help women access abortions. The Dutch-led fund has already gathered 181 million euros in donations.
Following the March 15 election, Dijksma is part of the outgoing Dutch cabinet. Negotiations for the next government are under way, but are likely to take months.