Gov. John Bel Edwards tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, June 23, 2022. (Wes Muller/Louisiana Illuminator)
Gov. John Bel Edwards, along with ten other Louisiana officials, will be traveling to Scotland for the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference.
Along with the governor and security personnel, the following people will be part of the Louisiana delegation:
Special Assistant to Edwards Donald Dunbar
Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson
Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Thomas Harris Executive Director for the Louisiana Office of International Commerce Larry Collins
Assistant Director for the Louisiana Office of International Commerce Ben Fontenot
Deputy Director for the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities Harry Vorhoff
Chief Resilience Officer for the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities Charles Sutcliffe
Policy Advisor for Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities Lindsay Cooper
Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications and Special Projects Christina Stephens
President of the Center for Planning Excellence Camille Manning-Broome
Everyone’s travel will be state-funded, with the exception of Manning-Broome. Edwards and his team will leave Thursday and the governor returns Nov. 4. Some members of his team may stay longer at the conference.
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One of the topics included at the conference will be biomass and the wood pellet industry. Biomass, renewable organic energy that comes from plants and animals, has been championed in the U.K. as a source of green energy. Much of the biomass burned in the U.K. comes from wood pellets made in the Southeast, including in Louisiana, which houses several wood pellet plants.
Environmental activists condemn this practice on several different levels. Many say that the wood pellet plants pollute surrounding areas, and that the biomass practice depletes woods and destroys southern forests.
Advocates against biomass also say the practice isn’t sustainable or eco-friendly, as the carbon emissions from burning wood pellets are greater than those from burning fossil fuels. Louisiana officials have not made any mention of the industry’s impact on carbon emissions, though other environmental measures have been announced.
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In October, Edwards announced the state’s joining of the international “Race to Zero” campaign, a campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Edwards is also part of the U.S. Climate Alliance, a network of governors committed to state-led environmental action.
The state launched a 2020 Climate Initiatives Task Force, with the goal of reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
“Make no mistake: an industry-wide transition to cleaner, less environmentally impactful energy production and utilization is going to happen regardless of if Louisiana participates, so it’s best that Louisiana be a leader in this space,” Edwards said in a press release.
“For my part, I want world leaders to know that in Louisiana we have the most productive manufacturing workforce in the nation, a workforce that makes essential products that drive the global economy, and a workforce that is ready to make those products but with a greater reduced carbon footprint,” he said.
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