Pro­test­ers Dis­rupt U.S. Pro-Coal Event at U.N. Cli­mate Talks


BONN (Dis­patches) - Pro­test­ers dis­rupted a pro-coal pre­sen­ta­tion by U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion at cli­mate change talks in Ger­many on Mon­day where al­most 200 na­tions are try­ing to shift the world econ­omy off fos­sil fu­els.

The U.S.-spon­sored event about “The Role of Cleaner and More Ef­fi­cient Fos­sil Fu­els and Nu­clear Power in Cli­mate Mit­i­ga­tion” jarred with many other na­tions, which want ne­go­ti­a­tions on the 2015 Paris Agree­ment to fo­cus on re­new­able en­er­gies.

“So you claim to be an Amer­i­can, but we see right through your greed,” dozens of pro­test­ers sud­denly chanted at a meet­ing of U.S. of­fi­cials and fos­sil fuel and nu­clear ex­perts to the tune of “God Bless the USA”.

They said the United States should keep coal “in the ground” and then walked out, leav­ing the 220-seat meet­ing room half-empty.

Ge­orge David Banks, a special as­sis­tant to Trump on en­ergy and the en­vi­ron­ment, said the panel was “only con­tro­ver­sial if we choose to bury our heads in the sand and ig­nore the needs of the global en­ergy sys­tem”.

Trump, who doubts that man-made green­house gas emis­sions are the main driver of ris­ing tem­per­a­tures, said in June that he plans to pull out of the 2015 Paris Agree­ment and in­stead pro­mote jobs in the fos­sil fuel in­dus­try. No coun­try has fol­lowed his lead. Coal now sup­plies a third of all en­ergy used world­wide, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional En­ergy Agency, with big shares in China and In­dia.

“The ques­tion needs not to be ‘if’ we use coal but ‘how’,” said Holly Krutka of Pe­abody En­ergy, one of the pan­el­lists. “Fos­sil fu­els are part of the en­ergy mix for decades to come”

“Nu­clear en­ergy is a low-car­bon en­ergy,” said Lenka Kol­lar, of nu­clear en­gi­neer­ing com­pany Nus­cale Power, a panel­list who said she per­son­ally op­posed Trump’s de­ci­sion to pull out of the Paris Agree­ment.

Still, Trump’s views on coal are mir­rored in many na­tions, even though the Paris agree­ment has a goal of end­ing the fos­sil fuel era some­time from 2050-2100.

En­ergy min­is­ters of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South East Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) is­sued a state­ment in Septem­ber that “reaf­firmed the need for in­creased pro­mo­tion of clean coal tech­nolo­gies.”

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