Protesters disrupted a US-sponsored presentation about fossil fuels as solutions to climate change at a United Nations global warming conference today. Singing and chanting, they registered their disdain for the official US message on climate.
Shortly after an introduction by White House energy policy adviser George David Banks, demonstrators began singing a version of “God Bless the USA,” with the lyrics changed to convey an anti-coal message, according to The Washington Post. “I’ll gladly stand up next to you and keep it in the ground,” the protesters sang. The original lyrics go, “And I gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.”
“Excellent singing,” said Banks, according to New York Times reporter Lisa Friedman, who was live-tweeting the event. “I think we should do karaoke after this.”
Delegates from almost 200 countries are currently meeting in Bonn, Germany, to discuss how to implement the Paris climate agreement — a landmark deal that commits the entire world to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to fight global warming. The United States is the only country that rejects the deal: in June, President Donald Trump announced that the US will withdraw from the climate accord, and his administration is taking steps to roll back regulations to reduce emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
Instead, the Trump administration is touting coal, and denying the most basic facts about climate change, including that humans are mostly responsible for it because of the burning of fossil fuels. Earlier this month, the White House announced that a presentation at this month’s UN conference would promote coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy as a way for poor countries to produce electricity but still reduce emissions. But experts believe that renewable energy can help bring people out of poverty, and investing in renewables is key, since climate change is already expected to hit poor people and developing countries the worst.
The fossil fuel presentation was expected to provoke protests, according to The New York Times. Protesters held “We The People” and “less CO2!” signs. After being kicked out of the presentation, which they managed to delay by seven minutes, the demonstrators kept chanting in the main hall, according to The Washington Post. The presentation then continued.