August 28. 2018 10:54PM

International Portsmouth conference still planned despite losing city backing

By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent


PORTSMOUTH — Organizers of a controversial climate conference on the Seacoast say they still plan to hold the much anticipated event, despite losing backing of city officials in Portsmouth.

Last week, city councilors expressed concern about the speakers scheduled to be at the international “Climate Policy Choices: Payoffs and Trade-Offs” conference. Some of those speakers are considered to be climate skeptics.

Keynote speaker Bjorn Lomborg is scheduled for the evening of Oct. 18 at Wentworth by the Sea in New Castle. The Danish author became internationally known for his 2001 book, “The Skeptical Environmentalist.”

According to Wikipedia, Lomborg argued many of the costly measures and actions adopted by scientists and policy makers to meet the challenges of global warming will have minimal impact. He is an advocate for focusing resources on AIDS, malaria and malnutrition.

Portsmouth City Councilor Josh Denton explained Monday that even though they had initially supported the climate conference with $2,500 in funding, as residents learned more about what is planned they reached out to their elected officials.

“When city taxpayer money is involved, it doesn’t have to support that,” Denton said. “I don’t want to give any credibility to a number of the speakers.”

Conference Spokesperson Geoff Weiss said the focus of the conference is not on the science of climate change, but the policies responsive to it.

“We thought talking about the science of climate change would be too contentious,” Weiss said Monday.

The conference will explore public policy and investment strategies related to climate and will include guidance on economic, regulatory and societal levels, according to a press release.

Weiss said on Oct. 19, there will be three panel discussions from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Each panelist will have the floor for five to ten minutes and then the audience can ask questions.

Weiss said organizers have invited leaders in industry, government and academia. Each ticket is $250, and there are sponsorship opportunities for graduate students.

Organizer Renee Plummer said the climate conference has been years in the making and she is hopeful it will turn out to be the smart and civil dialogue she envisioned.

“I’m just thinking, what an opportunity for New Hampshire to be on a world stage in a public way,” Plummer said.

The conference is hosted by Citizens Count. The organization plans to hold a similar conference on various social issues every other year.

For more information, visit www.theportsmouthconference.org.