Just a week after the naturalist Sir David Attenborough spoke passionately from the “People’s Seat” in Katowice, Poland at COP 24, the United States government officials are defending the fossil fuel industry.

While addressing the climate change conference from the “Peoples Seat,” which represents the link between the public and policy makers, Sir David said: “Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years. Climate Change.”

This point was echoed by Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, during the opening ceremony stating that climate change is “a matter of life and death” for many countries.

Later in the week President Trump’s international energy and climate adviser, Wells Griffith, held a panel discussion defending the coal, oil and gas industry. In the discussion Mr Griffith said “the United States has an abundance of natural resources and is not going keep them in the ground,” after protesters interrupted chanting “Shame on you!” and “Keep it in the ground!” Griffith went on to explain that “we strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice their economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability.”

Ian Fry, the lead negotiator for Tuvalu (an island nation highly likely to be impacted by sea-level-rise) has called the United States and Saudi Arabian government’s official indifference to the United Nations report “truly disturbing,” referring to the ‘welcoming’ of the recent IPCC report on 1.5C temperature increase.

The US administration is aware of the fact damages caused by climate change could reach “hundreds of billions of dollars” by the end of the century to the American economy, with extreme events affecting everything from health to infrastructure in the coming decades. Climate change impacts have all been highlighted in the Fourth National Climate Assessment, released by the U.S. Global Research Program. Their actions in Poland indicate an extraordinary indifference to this catastrophe and the effect it will have on Americans.

For more reporting on COP 24 see the BBC page here and for a summary of the Fourth National Climate Assessment see here.