Pro­test­ers rain on U.S. pro-coal pa­rade at con­fer­ence

Santa Fe New Mexican - - NATION & WORLD - By Chris Mooney

Demon­stra­tors on Mon­day in­ter­rupted a U.S. gov­ern­ment event at the United Na­tions cli­mate con­fer­ence in Ger­many, protest­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s sup­port for coal-fired power plants and the pres­i­dent’s in­ten­tion to pull the United States out of an in­ter­na­tional cli­mate pact.

At the U.N. cli­mate con­fer­ence in Bonn, demon­stra­tors in­ter­rupted the event fol­low­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion by White House energy pol­icy ad­viser Ge­orge David Banks. The event was ti­tled “The Role of Cleaner and More Ef­fi­cient Fos­sil Fu­els and Nu­clear Power in Cli­mate Mit­i­ga­tion.”

The pro­test­ers, who de­layed the event for roughly seven min­utes amid the talk by the next speaker, sang a ver­sion of the coun­try mu­sic song “God Bless the U.S.A.” with lyrics al­tered for an anti-coal mes­sage.

“Ex­cel­lent singing,” Banks said. “I think we should do karaoke af­ter this.”

The in­ter­rup­tion un­der­scores the con­tro­versy over the panel, as well as the broader an­i­mos­ity to­ward the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion at the cli­mate con­fer­ence.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has an­nounced his in­ten­tion to with­draw the U.S. from the Paris cli­mate agree­ment, but tech­ni­cally the coun­try can­not with­draw for three more years. Mean­while, the few re­main­ing coun­tries not ini­tially part of the agree­ment — Syria, Nicaragua — have since voiced their sup­port, leav­ing the U.S. iso­lated and up­ping the frus­tra­tion with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s cli­mate poli­cies.

That frus­tra­tion spilled over at the panel event. Banks and other pan­elists, in­clud­ing Holly Krutka, an of­fi­cial at major U.S. coal com­pany Pe­abody Energy, ar­gued that coal will be with us for some time and it should be made as clean as pos­si­ble.

This ar­gu­ment is con­sis­tent with a num­ber of sci­en­tific re­ports that have sug­gested a role for nu­clear power and car­bon cap­ture and stor­age, ap­plied to coal plants, to help solve the cli­mate change prob­lem. The re­ports con­clude re­new­able energy can­not ex­pand quickly enough to meet all de­mands, and that there­fore, a di­verse sup­ply of energy sources will be re­quired to shrink emis­sions.

Be­yond energy ef­fi­ciency and re­new­able energy, “a wider pack­age of tech­nolo­gies and ac­tions is also needed, in­clud­ing car­bon cap­ture and stor­age, nu­clear energy and end-use fuel switch­ing” to achieve the Paris goals, says the In­ter­na­tional Energy Agency. “The ques­tion in the dis­cus­sion to­day needs to be about not if we will use coal, but how,” Krutka said af­ter the in­ter­rup­tion.

Yet crit­ics con­tend the on­go­ing use of fos­sil fu­els hurt’s the ef­fort to avoid the worst ef­fects of cli­mate change, as they add heat-trap­ping green­house gas pol­lu­tants that can’t, with cur­rent tech­nol­ogy, be re­moved from the at­mos­phere.

Michael Bloomberg, the for­mer mayor of New York, ar­gued in a Twit­ter post that “pro­mot­ing coal at a cli­mate sum­mit is like pro­mot­ing to­bacco at a cancer sum­mit.” Wash­ing­ton state Gov. Jay Inslee, a Demo­crat, showed up to crit­i­cize it be­fore it be­gan.

The panel, one of few U.S. gov­ern­ment pub­lic events, was first slated to fo­cus on re­new­able energy, but its fo­cus was later switched to coal and nu­clear power, the Guardian re­ported.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.