BONN, Germany — Singing, shouting protesters repeatedly interrupted a White House-sponsored panel Monday evening as U.S. officials tried to promote fossil fuels and nuclear power during an international climate conference.
About 100 people launched into a song accusing the U.S. speakers of greed that’s “killing across the world for that coal money,” sung the tune of “God Bless the USA.” The outburst came after President Donald Trump’s energy aide George David Banks said in his opening remarks that the White House would support development of more efficient coal plants, as well as renewable and nuclear power.
The protesters marched out of the room after singing and chanting for about 10 minutes, and continued outside the hall. But the unrest continued.
“You are liars, you are a bunch of liars,” someone in crowd yelled after the officials faced questions about why Trump was killing former President Barack Obama’s carbon limits for power plants. Another person asked panel members whether they supported Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, and pressed Banks on Trump’s infamous dismissal of man-made climate change as a “hoax.”
“Clean coal is bull—-,” someone else yelled.
At one point, a person shouted at Banks to “answer the question Mr. Dodger.” He quipped, “No, I’m a Cardinals fan” — a reference that probably sailed past the heads of European sports fans in the audience.
Banks, who complimented the singing, said that renewable power is not yet ready to serve as nations’ major source of electricity, adding that it is “naive” to expect developing countries to deploy only solar and wind.
“This panel is only controversial if we choose to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the realities of the global energy system,” he said, arguing that many countries will continue to build coal plants, efficient or not.
Banks did not offer details on how the White House might promote the more efficient use of fossil fuels, and whether that included technology research or financing projects in developing countries.
Francis Brooke, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, moderated the talk, which featured executives from the liquefied natural gas company Tellurian, coal miner Peabody Energy and nuclear power company NuScale. It was a side event to the international climate conference, which is otherwise focused on questions such as limiting the rise in global carbon dioxide output to less-than-catastrophic levels in coming decades.
Kalina Oroschakoff contributed to this report.