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  1. ITV Report

US coal firms try to rebrand amid growing anxiety over climate change

  • Video report by ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore

As the US stands back from a world accord aiming to control climate change, coal producers in America's 'energy capital' are trying to improve their blackened image at home.

World leaders will be meeting tomorrow to mark two years since the historic Paris climate change agreement.

Notably absent will be the US president Donald Trump, who withdrew his country from the historic deal.

But concerns are growing within America over the effects of global warming, after the country suffered a series of devastating natural disasters that a growing number see as linked to a warming world.

In America's 'energy capital' of western US state of Wyoming, coal mining is still big business.

The US is reeling from a series of extreme weather events. Credit: ITV News

Coal is among the dirtiest of fossil fuels terms of the carbon production which leading scientists overwhelmingly agree is causing climate change.

40%
Global carbon dioxide emissions that come from the burning of coal.

Those in Wyoming are faced with a growing awareness of the risks of dirty fuel on one hand and the risk of job losses from a major local industry on the other.

Industry bosses now say they are they are in the business of innovation - trying to rebrand in an age of environmental anxiety.

Authorities in Wyoming say they hope the state "becomes the Silicon valley of carbon control technology".

Research is underway to to improve techniques to capture carbon dioxide before it reaches the atmosphere - what the industry terms as "clean coal".

On their side is President Trump, who has pledged support for the industry which he says will create jobs and wealth.

Donald Trump has been a vocal backer of the US coal industry. Credit: ITV News

He is moving in the opposite direction to the rest of the world, which is increasingly looking to dump coal for less pollution forms of energy production.

Wyoming's Governor says he does not agree with the President's decision to pull out of the world climate agreement, but he believes it would be wrong to keep six billion tons of coal in the ground...

"Henry Ford didn't wait for airbags or self driving cars before inventing the automobile," he said.

"Improvements will arrive, but not if we kill the industry first."

Coal is among the dirtiest of fossil fuels terms of the carbon production. Credit: ITV News

But those who advocate for a better energy mix for the environment say they're fighting those who often deny basic climate science.

Erin Burns, an energy analyst, says Mr Trump's stance is "absurd".

"Fossil fuels will in some places continue to be a part of the energy mix, and so we need to think about realistically how do we reduce the emissions from those sources.

"But they are on the way out. The future of our grid in the US and of energy globally is zero carbon," she said.